The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s (KSA) travel and tourism sector has helped maintain solid national economic growth amidst the protracted global financial crisis. The Saudi tourism market generates around SAR 52 billion in annual revenues, with export earnings from international travelers and tourism services expected to bring in SAR 239 billion towards 2019.

Despite being one of the 22 highest inbound markets in the world, the Kingdom aims at fully developing the potential of its tourism sector. Several trade events are already being lined up to encourage regional and international investors and exhibitors to explore the numerous prospects available within the thriving Saudi travel and tourism market. The Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA), the national authority responsible for the planning and development of domestic tourism, will lead government efforts to promote more inbound travel in 2010 by organizing the 3rd Saudi Travel and Tourism Investment Market (STTIM).

“As the largest economy in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia has the necessary resources to expand travel and tourism as major income generators. There are still numerous development opportunities available in areas such as Al-Wajh, Assir, Al Qassim, and Hail, to name a few. One of the government’s priorities is to increase the regional and global visibility of the Kingdom’s tourism and hospitality offerings. The SCTA’s annual STTIM is an excellent platform to achieve this goal,” said Mohammed Al Hussaini, Deputy General Manager, Riyadh Exhibitions Company.

The KSA’s inbound tourism has increased 11 per cent over the past two years. Travel and tourism combined to contribute 7.2 per cent or around SAR 102 billion of the Kingdom’s GDP last year. The sector’s employment contribution is expected to increase from 590,000 jobs in 2009 or 7.3 per cent of the national workforce to 922,000 jobs or 9.4 per cent of employment by 2019.

To be held under the patronage of H.R.H. Prince Salman Bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud, Governor of Riyadh, the latest edition of STTIM will be held from March 28 to April 1, 2010 / Rabi Al-Tani 12 to 16, 1431 H at the Riyadh International Exhibition Centre. Attendees to Saudi Arabia’s main business-to-business and business-to-consumer travel and tourism event will learn more about the latest local industry trends, best practices and opportunities within the Exhibition Centre’s 15,000 SQM of indoor exhibition space.