Obstacles facing domestic tourism

Abdullah Al-Jamili


The Tourism Call Center of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage dealt with more than 14,000 complaints during 2018. The complaints included pricing violations in all the sectors that are related to tourism.

If we add to this number the complaints that the Commission received on social media and other complaints that did not reach the tourism call center, then I think we are facing major dissatisfaction with the national tourism sector.

Despite the efforts by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage to activate the tourism sector and the many initiatives launched, domestic tourism is still facing many obstacles.

Some of these obstacles include the poor services compared to the high prices charged in hotels, furnished apartments and parks. There are dangerous roads that link cities and provinces. There is an absence of good gas stations and rest areas with basic services. There is also the rising cost of public transportation, such as planes, buses and trains.

Although it is well known that train ticket prices are the cheapest worldwide, in Saudi Arabia they are the most expensive. For example, the cost of a round trip economy train ticket from Makkah to Madinah on the Haramain railway is SR315 per person. Another obstacle that faces domestic tourism is the poor presentation and promotion of tourist sites.

Lastly, according to statistical reports, the amount of money Saudis spend on tourism abroad has in some years been more than 12 percent of total government spending. This amounted to half a trillion riyals between 2007 and 2016.

When will Saudis benefit from domestic tourism in their own country? How can we prevent billions of riyals from leaving the country, which could be used to generate thousands of jobs for our youth.

Twitter: @aaljamili