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Hajj pilgrimage to boost Saudi Arabian tourism to over 20 million visitors by 2020
Inbound arrivals to Saudi Arabia will reach over 20 million by 2020, as the religious tourism sector flourishes in line with increasing demand to join the annual Hajj pilgrimage, the most important religious event of the year in the Muslim world.
Consumer insight firm Canadean’s latest report finds that the Hajj represents a major tourism opportunity for both domestic and international stakeholders with over two million pilgrims having travelled to Saudi Arabia in September to visit Islam’s holiest site in Mecca.
Income from these visitors is expected to help Saudi Arabia to offset its recent losses in oil revenue, which accounts for 40% of the country’s gros domestic product, with tourism contributing just 3.5% of GDP in 2015.
Canadean Analyst Gillian Kennedy explains “while the Hajj is an established ritual in the Islamic world, its importance as a tourism destination has been transformed in recent times.
“The Saudi Government is investing heavily in new hotels and spending more than US$13 million a year renovating historical religious sites. Specific landmark hotel openings in the pipeline include the Abraj Kudai hotel, which will be the world's largest hotel with 10,000 rooms, built at an estimated cost of US$3.6 billion.”
According to Saudi Government statistics, tourist expenditure during this year’s Hajj season increases by 30% over last year’s figures to reach US$6.9 billion. The increase is partly the result of the Saudi Government having ended the limit on Hajj pilgrimage visitors as previous overcapacity incidents caused violent episodes amid serious crowding at the Hajj.
Kennedy adds “despite previous incidents, demand to visit the Hajj continues to grow with over three million visitors a year, and tourist accommodation is witnessing a major increase in prices.
“With at least 40% of pilgrimage expenditure used for accommodation such as hotels or fully-furnished apartments, there are a plenty of investment opportunities with significant revenue potential emerging in the Saudi Kingdom.
“Already, 13 of Mecca’s 15 old neighborhoods have been rebuilt to make room for hotels and commercial spaces.
“Moreover, one square metre of land in the area surrounding the Grand Mosque is currently valued at US$122,350, resulting in much of the native population selling their property to the government or to real estate developers.”
United Kingdom-based Canadean provides in-depth market research across the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector, including food, packaging, ingredients, soft drinks, beer, retail, wines & spirits, cosmetics & toiletries, foodservice, baby food, tobacco and tourism.
For more information on Canadean’s Travel and Tourism in Saudi Arabia to 2020 report go to www.canadean.com
Image: Mecca's Grand Mosque.
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