Tourism in Saudi Arabia

Tourism in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia recorded a total of 20 million tourists in 2019, ranking 13th in the world in absolute terms.

Without including the size of a country, such a ranking list may not be very meaningful. By putting the tourist numbers in relation to the population of Saudi Arabia, the result is much more comparable picture: With 0.56 tourists per resident, Saudi Arabia ranked 61st in the world. In Western Asia, it ranked 4th.

In 2020, Saudi Arabia generated around 5.96 billion US dollars in the tourism sector alone. This corresponds to 0.72 percent of its the gross domestic product and approximately 8 percent of all international tourism receipts in Western Asia.

A global comparison can be found here › International tourism

Back to overview: Saudi Arabia

Most popular destinations in Saudi Arabia

No less than 4 cities in Saudi Arabia are among the top 100 most popular destinations worldwide. In 2019, Mecca reached the 21st place with 9.83 million tourists. According to Euromonitor, all foreign tourists with at least one overnight stay were counted.


Tourism in Saudi Arabia

Development of the tourism sector in Saudi Arabia from 1995 to 2019

The following chart shows the number of tourist arrivals registered in Saudi Arabia each year. Anyone who spends at least one night in the country but does not live there for more than 12 months is considered a tourist. Insofar as the survey included the purpose of the trip, business trips and other non-tourism travel purposes have already been excluded. The number of people passing through within the same day, and e.g., crew members of ships or flights are also not considered tourists in most countries. If the same person travels in and out more than once within the same year, each visit counts again.

Data in the chart are given in millions of tourists. The red line represents the average of all 18 countries in Western Asia.

Tourists per year in Saudi Arabia

Revenues from tourism

In 2003, tourism revenues amounted to 3.42 billion USD, or about 1.6 percent of the gross national product. This corresponded to about 7.33 million tourists at that time and roughly 466 USD per person. Within 17 years, the country's dependence on tourism has increased noticeably. Before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, sales were $19.85 billion billion, 2.5 percent of gross national product. Thus, each visitor spent an average of $978 on their vacation in Saudi Arabia.

In 2020, tourist receipts plummeted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Of the $19.85 billion billion (2019), only $5.96 billion billion remained. This is a 70 percent decrease in Saudi Arabia.

Tourism receipts in Saudi Arabia per year

All data for Saudi Arabia in detail

YearNumber of touristsReceipts% of GNPReceipts per tourist
201920.29 m19.85 bn $2.5 %978 $
201817.57 m16.97 bn $2.1 %966 $
201718.61 m15.02 bn $2.2 %807 $
201620.89 m13.44 bn $2.1 %643 $
201521.83 m11.18 bn $1.7 %512 $
201423.01 m9.26 bn $1.2 %403 $
201319.93 m8.69 bn $1.2 %436 $
201219.85 m8.40 bn $1.1 %423 $
201115.78 m9.32 bn $1.4 %591 $
201013.03 m7.54 bn $1.4 %579 $
200913.32 m6.74 bn $1.6 %506 $
200817.72 m6.78 bn $1.3 %382 $
200713.48 m6.91 bn $1.7 %512 $
200610.96 m4.77 bn $1.3 %435 $
200510.42 m4.63 bn $1.4 %444 $
200411.08 m6.49 bn $2.5 %585 $
20037.33 m3.42 bn $1.6 %466 $
20027.51 m
20016.73 m
20006.59 m
19954.40 m

Our data on tourist numbers, revenues and expenditures are based on information from the World Tourism Organization. However, to ensure international comparability, the data for some years or countries were manually researched and corrected if they obviously included visitors without overnight stays. In these cases, the data were taken from the official communications of the respective national tourism authorities.

The World Tourism Organization additionally points out that in some countries, the number of tourists is only counted at airports, while in others they are also counted at border crossings or even hotels. A comprehensive and reliable indication is therefore hardly possible in any country.

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