RIYADH: Tourism will be one of the key topics for discussion when Saudi Arabia hosts next year’s G20 summit in Riyadh, the Kingdom’s sector chief has revealed.
The country aims to attract 100 million visitors a year while creating 1 million new jobs by 2030, ministers at a world tourism conference heard.
Ahmad Al-Khateeb, chairman of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH), told a gathering of top travel officials in London that the global tourism sector had grown by 3.9 percent last year, with a staggering 319 million people working in the industry.
Chairing the World Tourism Organization’s (UNWTO) ministerial summit at the World Travel Market event being staged in the British capital, Al-Khateeb said the 2020 G20 gathering would focus on ways to sustain world growth in the sector.
“We have ambitious targets and promising plans to invest in the tourism industry and we seek to reach 100 million visits per year to the Kingdom, and generate 1 million new jobs by 2030,” he said.
Al-Khateeb explained the methodology adopted by the Kingdom to develop tourism in a way that ensured the sustainability and protection of communities and rural areas.
He said most countries were aware of the magnitude of the environmental impact of tourism on their urban cities, and this had led them to look for alternative destinations.
The SCTH chief pointed out that more than 80 percent of the Kingdom’s population (34 million people) lived in urban areas and as a result the country was working on protecting and developing rural communities, socially and economically, by supporting a number of technical and creative solutions.
Al-Khateeb added that rural areas of Saudi Arabia were rich with tourist attractions and that the Kingdom boasted 10,000 historical and archaeological sites, many on the UNESCO World Heritage list such as AlUla and Al-Ahsa.