More than 30,000 hotel rooms under development in Saudi Arabia as Kingdom prepares to meet pent-up demand from returning pilgrims


• Al Khobar outperforms other markets as hotel demand rises above pre-2020 levels
• ATM Saudi Forum focuses on ATM 2022, amid ongoing market recovery

A total of 32,621 hotel rooms are currently under construction in Saudi Arabia as the kingdom prepares to meet pent-up demand from pilgrims returning to its holy cities. This is according to the latest research from STR, commissioned by Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2022, which will take place at the Dubai World Trade Center (DWTC) from Monday 9th to Thursday 12th May.

Analysts found the country’s Revenue Per Available Room (RevPAR) recovery index stands at 52%, noting that the absence of millions of Muslim pilgrims has had a significant impact on hotel performance in Saudi Arabia. . Medina and Makkah recorded RevPAR rates of only 33% and 24%, respectively, in 2021.

Although significantly below pre-pandemic levels, Saudi Arabia’s hotel performance posted year-over-year gains in 2021 and the sector’s recovery is expected to continue through the year ahead, with pent-up demand driving further improvements as Covid-related restrictions continue to ease. .

Danielle Curtis, Exhibition Manager ME – Arabian Travel Market, said: “As has been the case with markets around the world, the global pandemic has had a major impact on the Saudi hospitality sector. Even so, STR’s findings clearly point to a continued and sustained recovery, and we look forward to exploring the vast untapped potential of the kingdom’s booming tourism sector at ATM 2022.”

Hotels in Al Khobar currently outperform those in other major cities in Saudi Arabia, with RevPAR surpassing pre-pandemic levels in 2021. Riyadh, Dammam and Jeddah, meanwhile, recorded index rates of 88%, 85% and 56% recovery, respectively, last time. year.
In terms of outbound travel, research by Colliers International shows that outbound travel from the kingdom is expected to reach 6,075,000 in 2022, up from around 3,793,000 in 2021 and 4,839,000 in 2020. More In the long term, outbound tourist travel is expected to increase. increase to 9,262,000 in 2025, although this figure would still be significantly lower than the peak of 19,751,000 recorded in 2019.

Spending by outbound tourists is expected to reach SAR 32.656 billion ($8.7 billion) this year, up from around SAR 19.734 billion ($5.26 billion) in 2021 and SAR 21.969 billion ($5.86 billion). ) in 2020. Total expenditure is expected to increase to SAR 54.624 billion ($14.56 billion) in 2025.

Other takeaways from Colliers International’s analysis include the growth of “visiting friends and relatives” (VFR) related travel during the pandemic, which accounted for more than half of outbound travel ( 55%) in 2020, compared to 39% in 2019; and an increase in average travel time from 15.4 days in 2019 to 19.2 days in 2020.

With two sessions dedicated exclusively to the kingdom, attendees, exhibitors and delegates will have ample opportunity to immerse themselves in the tourism, travel and hospitality industry in Saudi Arabia at ATM 2022.

The first, “From Strategy to Reality: Saudi Arabia’s Tourism Vision Comes of Age”, which is part of the ATM Saudi Forum, will focus on infrastructure advancements, niche markets and new opportunities, as the country strives to attract 100 million annual visitors by 2030. The second, “Saudi Arabia’s Master Plan for Responsible Tourism Development,” will explore how sustainability, l Community inclusion, education and training, and the legacy impact of Saudi Arabia’s global tourism vision can offer a best practice model for other global destinations.

The ATM Saudi Forum will bring together high-level experts, including Mahmoud Abdulhadi, Deputy Minister of Investment Attraction at the Saudi Ministry of Tourism, Captain Ibrahim Koshy, CEO, SAUDIA, Amr AlMadani, CEO, Royal Commission for AlUla , Majed bin Ayed Al -Nefaie, CEO, Seera Group Holding, Fawaz Farooqui, Managing Director, Cruise Saudi, John Pagano, CEO, Red Sea Development Company & AMAALA and Jerry Inzerillo, CEO, Diriyah Gate Development Authority.

ATM 2022 will host a range of high profile exhibitors from across the kingdom, including the Saudi Tourism Authority, which has expanded its exhibition area by 40% compared to 2021 – as well as Saudia Airlines, Flynas, Seera, RED Sea Project, NEOM, Dur Hospitality and the first participant of the Al Hokair group.

“While religious tourism will undoubtedly remain a mainstay for Saudi Arabia, the global travel community is also understandably excited about the new opportunities opening up thanks to the country’s growing investment in other segments,” added Curtis. “As its post-pandemic recovery continues to gain momentum, ATM 2022 presents the perfect forum to discuss the myriad opportunities offered by the kingdom’s ever-expanding tourism market.”

Now in its 29th year and working in conjunction with the Dubai World Trade Center (DWTC) and the Dubai Department of Economy and Tourism (DET) – formerly the Department of Tourism and Trade Marketing (DTCM) – the points ATM show highlights in 2022 will include, among others, a destination summit focusing on the key source market of India, as well as Saudi Arabia.

Previously called Travel Forward, the revamped and rebranded ATM Travel Tech event will take place on the ATM Travel Tech Stage, hosting seminars, panel discussions and presentations as well as the first ATM Draper-Aladdin startup competition.

The dedicated [email protected] forum, meanwhile, will cover current and future trends for tour operators and attractions, focusing on business growth through marketing, technology, distribution, thought leadership and relationships. at management level.

ATM will once again play a vital role in Arabian Travel Week, a festival of events dedicated to enabling travel professionals around the world to collaborate and shape the recovery of the travel industry in the Middle East through exhibitions, conferences, information breakfasts, awards, product launches and networking events.

The UAE remains one of the most Covid-secure countries on the planet, with consistently low case rates and robust measures to keep tourists safe at every stage of their visit. Like its neighboring emirates, Dubai is committed to maintaining the highest health and safety standards. The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) has endorsed its handling of the pandemic, awarding the city a “Safe Travels” stamp.

In line with the UAE government’s forward-thinking transition to a four-and-a-half-day, Monday-Friday work week, this year’s edition of ATM will begin on Monday, May 9.
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