Saudi Arabia’s burgeoning travel industry will soon be the largest employer in the kingdom, according to the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA).
Nearly 1.8m people will work in tourism by 2020 – almost triple the number in 2011, a SAMA report said, according to Arab News.
A number of new hotels are being built in the kingdom as it aims to boost tourism numbers and cater for the influx of pilgrims who travel there for the Hajj and Umrah.
The SAMA report says employees in the tourism sector would rapidly increase from the 670,000 jobs in 2011, a 5.9 percent increase on 2010.
Tourism jobs accounted for 7.6 percent of the total workers of 8.8m in 2011, and was forecast to rise to 9.7 percent.
“We expect the sector would provide 841,000 direct jobs and 421,000 indirect jobs by 2015 and 1.2m direct jobs and 591,000 indirect jobs by 2020,” the report said.
Total spending on tourism in the kingdom reached SAR81bn (US$21.6bn) in 2011, according to SAMA.
Of the total, SAR36bn (US$9.6bn) was from domestic travellers, up 6.1 percent compared to 2010. Foreign tourist spending rose by 73 percent to SAR45bn.