Saudi Arabia ranks 62 on global tourism index

The World Tourism Organization (WTO) has ranked Saudi Arabia at 62 among 142 countries on its global travel and tourism competitiveness index.

The WTO released the statistics at the ongoing Saudi Travel and Tourism Investment Market (STTIM).

The data revealed that the Kingdom was ranked at six in 2011 and 14 in 2013, showing it was offering less competitive pricing.

The WTO statistics showed that the Kingdom earned SR28 billion in 2013 from spending by 23 million domestic tourists, and SR48 billion from international tourists who made 13 million trips.

Switzerland, Germany and Austria lead the world in terms of their travel and tourism industry competitiveness, with Spain, the United Kingdom, the United States, France, Canada, Sweden and Singapore completing the top 10, according to the WTO.

Tourism is among the largest employers in most countries. Encouraging travel boosts consumer and business confidence, strengthens two-way trade and promotes export income.

The Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA), the organizer of the STTIM, has been trying to boost job creation in the industry. Its recent exhibition found jobs for 703 Saudis in ticketing, air cargo, travel and accounting positions.

The citizens only required secondary school qualifications, and would earn SR4,500, plus allowances and perks granted by travel and tourism companies and agencies.

New employees had to undergo training over six to 10 months to improve their English, computer literacy and other job skills.

German Porras, a WTO consultant and former secretary general of tourism in Spain, during his keynote address at the STTIM workshop on safety and security, highlighted international standards needed for success in the industry.

He said it was important for countries to have safety and security plans as part of their national tourism strategies.


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