Saudi Arabia is set to invest almost SAR10 billion in its travel and tourism sector as part of six initiatives set out in this year’s budget.

Among the plans are a programme for taking care of national culture and heritage, the development of Okaz city in Taif and promoting the kingdom as a holiday destination for Muslims.

“The Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) is reviewing its strategies to conform with Vision 2030 and contribute to achieving the goals of the National Transformation Programme (NTP) 2020,” Mohammad Al-Nashmi, an SCTH spokesman, told Gulf News.

Around 900,000 Saudis are currently employed in the tourism industry and the kingdom hopes to increase that to 1.2 million by 2030.

Religious tourism, such as pilgrimages, is a big draw for Saudi Arabia, but this investment is aiming to broaden the country’s appeal to holidaymakers.

Al-Nashmi added: “The Long Live Saudi Arabia Programme is another initiative [and others include] the kingdom as a Muslim destination initiative, the development of integrated tourism destinations and the Kafalah programme initiative,” which will help finance commercial tourism projects.

Saudi Arabia is not the only country looking to its tourism sector to push the economy forward. Last week, the World Travel and Tourism Council published a report claiming the UAE will create 18,000 new jobs in the sector next year and 410,000 by 2027.

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