(MENAFN - Arab News) Saudi Arabia is one of the fastest growing markets in the world, and the Kingdom's tourism sector has a considerable share in the nation's economy.
The leading industry experts from the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) and the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) stated that the Kingdom is expected to receive 88 million visitors by 2020, with Umrah accounting for around 16 million visitors by 2014. These statements were made at a press conference held at JCCI on Monday, to announce the upcoming "International Hotel Show and Summit" that will take place from the 17th till the 19th of November.
"With the long term vision to boost the tourist influx from 47 million in 2008 to 88 million in 2020, the demand for hotel rooms is set to surge from 120,000 to 255,000. The Hotel Summit Saudi Arabia is a great point of convergence to define the strategic roadmap for the country's hospitality sector," said Mazen Batterjee, Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors at JCCI. "We have introduced several initiatives that are aimed at promoting the tourism and hospitality industry in the Kingdom through training highly qualified staff capable of offering hospitality services at international standards," he added.
According to the recent report of Ventures Middle East, due to the increased supply of international brands offering nearly 3000 hotel rooms, Saudi Arabia's hospitality sector is now perceived by investors as the second most attractive hospitality market.
In the next two years, the number of hotels will increase in the Kingdom, which will thus contribute to Saudization as the hotels will aim to recruit 40 percent of their employees from the Saudi population. In the upcoming years, there will be demand for high quality services and interiors by international travelers.
Barth de Ridder, DMG director of Conferences and Training in the Middle East, said GDP growth shows a high level of investment opportunities in Saudi Arabia with growth in the hotel and hospitality sectors.
The Kingdom will receive up to 88 million visitors by 2020, while the expected number of hotel employees will increase from 18,600 to 2.3 million by 2020.
"In view of the rising business in tourism and exponential expansion of the hospitality industry, we expect to have more than 20,000 rooms by 2016, with an increase in the number of workers in the field of tourism. The International Hotel Show and Summit is an excellent platform to facilitate business and provide networking opportunities for industry peers," said Mohammed Al-Amri, Executive manager SCTA, Makkah region.
He further added that SCTA have five chief objectives, as SCTA's first target is to increase domestic tourism, business, creation of job opportunities for Saudi youth, entertainment, and to provide best hospitality to the Kingdom's visitors, as is custom in Saudi culture and tradition.
He also stressed on the economic potential of this promising sector to create new jobs across various levels, as direct and indirect tourism related jobs in various tourist activities exceed the barrier of 1 million jobs by 2016 with the growth of 25 percent.
The evaluation process takes place once a year, and investors are working hard to meet the increasing demand; for instance Jeddah city will need 6,000-7,000 rooms in the upcoming years.
He further said the Hotel Summit under the patronage of prince Sultan Bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz, President and Chairman of Board of Directors of SCTA, is organized by MICE Arabia, and co organized by dmg:: events. The event will feature debates on the latest industry trends from across the globe, and ways to leverage the know-how to boost the booming hospitality sector in the Kingdom.
Elie Rizk, CEO of Mice Arabia said with the participation of more than 100 international and local companies, the Hotel Summit is bringing together leading regional and international manufacturers and suppliers in hospitality and catering.
The Hotel Summit will offer an ideal opportunity for executives and managers from the leading hospitality companies to network and create business ties and support the ongoing growth of the industry.
"The healthy nature of hospitality, the booming economy and ambitious goals of SCTA to provide more job opportunities, create the best environment for investors in the Kingdom," said Mike Allsopp, senior Vice president, at dmg:: events.
The Saudi Hospitality sector has registered a 127 percent growth over the last 10-years. With the rising tourism business and the exponential expansion of the hospitality industry, the market is expected to increase by a further 83 percent in the next years.