The Ministry of Tourism released initial data on tourism statistics for the first half of 2023, showing the ongoing success of the tourism sector and building upon the significant growth experienced in 2022. Additionally, they serve to update both local and international investors on the latest developments within the sector. This reinforces the Ministry of Tourism’s and its partners’ commitment to attracting visitors through improved tourism offerings and service quality, as well as enhanced visa processes.
Positive results were achieved in Saudi Arabia’s tourism sector this year, with a total of 53.6 million tourists, including 39.0 million domestic visitors and 14.6 million international visitors. The total tourism expenditure amounted to SAR150 billion, with SAR63.1 billion from domestic tourism and SAR86.9 billion from inbound tourism, setting a new historical record for Saudi tourism.
During the first six months of 2023, inbound tourism experienced its highest ever levels, with a (142%) rise in tourist arrivals and (132%) increase in total tourism expenditure compared to the same period in 2022. As the tourism industry continues to grow, there has been a significant surge in the number of tourists across all categories, particularly in leisure tourism, which witnessed a remarkable growth of (347%) compared to the first half of 2022.
Tourism spending in domestic travel during the first half of 2023 increased by 16% compared to the same period in 2022. This growth can be attributed to a rise in the average length of stay, which went from 4.6 nights in the first half of 2022 to 6.3 nights in the first half of 2023. The primary purpose for domestic travel was leisure, with a notable 18% increase in the number of visitors compared to the first half of 2022. This accounted for 16.6 million tourists and represented 43% of all domestic trips.
In the first half of 2023, the number of outbound tourists increased by 37%, and their spending increased by 74% compared to the same period in 2022. This increase can be attributed to the lifting of global travel restrictions and the start of the summer season and school break in June. Out of all outbound tourists, non-Saudi residents accounted for 45% and their numbers increased by 24% compared to the first half of 2022. Their spending accounted for 66% of all outbound spending. The main purpose of non-Saudi outbound trips was to visit friends and relatives, which represented 67% of all trips. The average length of stay increased from 19.3 nights in the first half of 2022 to 45.5 nights in the first half of 2023, resulting in a 109% increase in non-Saudi outbound spending for all purposes.
Outbound travelers from Saudi Arabia saw a rise of 49%, mainly to nearby nations, while their spending on outbound tourism increased by 32% compared to the first half of 2022. It is worth mentioning that the average expenditure per night for Saudi tourists decreased from 599 SAR in the first half of 2022 to 332 SAR in the first half of 2023.