Religious and Domestic Tourism in Saudi Arabia

The development of tourism as a sustainable economic sector requires a deep understanding of what kind of people are likely to visit the country and their preferred activities and destinations. This knowledge will allow the kingdom to choose the right directions for investment and boost the industry. Bokhari explains that although non-evident for Western and Asian visitors of the country, religious tourism plays a vital role for Saudi Arabia as a keeper of “Mecca and Medina, Islam’s two holiest cities” (160). Muslims currently comprise around 25% of the global population and growing, which means that religious tourism will hardly ever stop in the kingdom in the foreseeable future.

At this point, the significance of domestic airline companies grows as they will have to be able to serve the increasing influx of tourists from all over the world. Alsumairi proves a positive correlation between the air transport development in the region and the number of international tourists (142). Apart from the big airline business, such small and medium enterprises as hotels, souvenir shops, travel agencies, translation bureaus, and others will benefit and expand.

Interestingly, domestic tourism research in Saudi Arabia detected some push factors that could affect the tourism sector in general. Among three main reasons against traveling inside the country, people selected ‘The existing tourism sites are not well maintained,’ ‘The quality of domestic services is poor compared to other foreign destinations,’ and ‘Lack of tourism information (e.g. maps, guides, etc.)’ (Mansour 33). This feedback shows desired improvement area to ensure the best tourism experience.

Finally, the real estate sector is expected to boom. To be more specific, with the swift development of Riyadh, Mecca, and other metropolitan areas, Saudi Arabia requires a radical change in the hospitality business. For now, “…there are over 80 hotels under construction across the Kingdom, accounting for 27,281 rooms” (Daye 101). The facts mentioned above allow drawing several implications. Firstly, Saudi Arabia started strong and can create appealing tourist attractions due to its rich cultural legacy and great investments into tourism non-affiliated with religion. Secondly, comfort is a critical pull factor that currently needs more attention in Saudi Arabia.

Works Cited

Alsumairi, Mohammad, and Kan Wai Hong Tsui. “A case study: The impact of low-cost carriers on inbound tourism of Saudi Arabia.” Journal of Air Transport Management 62 (2017): 129-145.

Bokhari, Abla Abdul Hameed. “The Economics of Religious Tourism (Hajj and Umrah) in Saudi Arabia.” Research Anthology on Religious Impacts on Society. IGI Global, 2021. 148-168.

Daye, Ali S. “Rising tourism in Saudi Arabia: implications for real estate investment.” Cornell Real Estate Review 17.1 (2019): 22.

Mansour, Mourad, and Alhassan G. Mumuni. “Motivations and attitudes toward domestic tourism in Saudi Arabia.” European Journal of Tourism, Hospitality and Recreation 9.1 (2019): 27-37.

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