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New tourism investments spark a travel boom in Saudi Arabia

DUBAI: As Saudi Arabia gets ready to open its doors to tourists from around the world, its own citizens are expected to take their travels to the next level in coming years.

With travel bookings in the Kingdom considered the largest in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) — worth more than $25 billion each year — the power of the Saudi traveller shows no sign of slowing down.

“Based on our insights and data from this year, we foresee that in 2019, some of the travel trends for Saudi consumers will be increased duration of stay, continued momentum and growth around religious tourism, and more interest in resort-based destinations,” said Muzzammil Ahussain, executive vice president of Almosafer, a Saudi online travel platform.

“In 2018, we found that travellers opted for longer vacations, with the average length of stay increasing by 20 percent compared with 2017.”

Religious tourism is a growing travel sector in the Kingdom, with the platform’s hotel bookings for Makkah and Madinah increasing by 92 percent in 2018 versus 2017.

The platform also had a rise in bookings for resort destinations such as Bali, Sharm El-Sheikh and Orlando.

“Within the Middle East, the top destinations for Saudi travellers include Dubai, Cairo, Manama and Sharm El-Sheikh, but we can also see that they are increasingly opting to travel further abroad, with destinations such as Kuala Lumpur, Colombo and Tbilisi on the rise,” Ahussain said.

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