Riyadh: Saudi Arabia is setting out to attract more than 30 million pilgrims and 100 million tourists every year as part of its ambitious Vision 2030 economic reform plan, a major investment forum has been told.

The untapped potential of the tourism sector lies at the heart of this transformation program, promising not only economic prosperity and diversification, but also a cultural renaissance and heritage enrichment.

Saudi Minister of Transport and Logistics Saleh bin Nasser Al-Jasser recently told a session of the Saudi-European Investment Forum in Riyadh: “The Kingdom aims to increase the number of Hajj and Umrah pilgrims to over 30 million and tourists to more than 100 million annually in alignment with Vision 2030 goals.”

He said that Saudi Arabia is set to invest SR1.6 trillion ($400 billion) through partnerships with the private sector and various countries, adding that the focus is on enhancing quality of life, and connecting services with individuals without replicating traditional models.

“Over the next 10 years, we will make investments totaling SR1.6 trillion through partnerships with the private sector and various countries. We have also developed two crucial aviation centers, supported the needs of our citizens, and connected the Kingdom to the world through 250 tourist destinations,” he said.

This approach has attracted both tourists and investors, reshaping the nation’s identity as a prominent global destination, according to the recently launched ASFAR, the Saudi Tourism Investment Co.

“We collectively embarked on a mission to restore prominent heritage and archaeological sites to showcase our historical treasures to a global audience seamlessly combining our cultural legacy with modern experiences through extensive infrastructure, unique amenities, and exceptional connectivity,” added ASFAR.

Saudi Arabia has further cemented its position as an investment hub. Several global hospitality brands, and local hotel chains and food and beverage networks, have established their presence, elevating the standards of the tourism and hospitality industries.

As a key driver of Saudi Arabia’s tourism aspirations, ASFAR co-invests with the public and private sector to harness the potential of the hospitality, retail, F&B, and entertainment sectors, all of which constitute the cornerstone of Vision 2030’s strategic initiatives.

The company endeavors to sustainably bolster the nation’s economic diversification and employment generation, while enhancing the quality of life of residents and visitors.

Realizing the immense potential of heritage tourism, Saudi Arabia is investing heavily in the preservation, development, and promotion of its cultural remnants and historical traditions.

The Kingdom seeks to attract entertainment seekers through developments such as Diriyah and AMAALA, which support the Vision 2030 objectives to promote ecotourism, adventure tourism, and wellness tourism.

Saudi Arabia is also capitalizing on its natural beauty by developing world-class tourist destinations with modern amenities, as exemplified by developments, such as NEOM and the Red Sea Project, with environmental sustainability at the core.

“We are firmly committed to leaving a positive legacy. We deeply respect the local communities and the environment that surround our projects. Rather than merely developing, we celebrate these resources, ensuring that our projects not only preserve but enhance the local ecosystems,” said ASFAR.

Saudi Arabia ranked first among Arab nations for inbound visitors with more than 18 million travelers visiting the Kingdom in the first nine months of 2022, according to UN World Tourism Organization data.