ATM 2022: Saudi Arabia preparing for return of religious tourism

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.

That is according to the latest research from STR, commissioned by Arabian Travel Market.

The event will return at the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) from May 9-12 this year.

The analysts found that the country’s revenue per available room (RevPAR) recovery index stands at 52 per cent, noting that the absence of millions of Muslim pilgrims has significantly impacted hotel performance in Saudi Arabia.

Medina and Makkah witnessed RevPAR rates of just 33 per cent and 24 per cent, respectively, in 2021.

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Although significantly lower than pre-pandemic levels, Saudi’s hotel performance registered year-on-year gains in 2021 and the sector’s recovery is expected to persist throughout the coming year, with pent-up demand driving further improvements as Covid-19-related restrictions continue to ease.

Danielle Curtis, exhibition director, Middle East, Arabian Travel Market, said: “As was the case for markets the world over, the global pandemic had a major impact on Saudi Arabia’s hospitality sector.

“Even so, STR’s findings clearly point to an ongoing and sustained recovery, and we are looking forward to exploring the vast untapped potential of the kingdom’s burgeoning tourism sector at ATM 2022.”

Hotels in Al Khobar are currently outperforming those in Saudi Arabia’s other major cities, with RevPAR surpassing pre-pandemic levels in 2021.

Riyadh, Dammam and Jeddah, meanwhile, recorded recovery index rates of 88 per cent, 85 per cent and 56 per cent, respectively, last year.

In terms of outbound travel, research conducted by Colliers International shows that overseas journeys from the kingdom are set to grow to 6,075,000 in 2022, compared to an estimated 3,793,000 in 2021 and 4,839,000 in 2020.

In the longer term, outbound tourist trips are expected to rise to 9,262,000 in 2025, although this figure would still be significantly lower than the peak of 19,751,000 recorded in 2019.

More Information

Breaking Travel News recently caught up with Danielle Curtis, exhibition director for Arabian Travel Market, to find out what is in store for the 2022 event.

Find out what she had to say here.

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