Saudi market witnesses growth

Saudi Seasons is expected to broaden the country’s appeal to leisure travellers across the region. The Taif and Al Soudah Seasons followed the Jeddah Season, with Riyadh Season expected this month.

Drees & Sommer has identified Riyadh’s three-star market as the best opportunity for growth as the capital undergoes a period of rapid economic diversification.

Commenting on the research, titled Drees & Sommer Market Cockpit - Riyadh Midscale/Upscale Hotels Market 2019, managing director of Drees & Sommer’s specialised global hospitality division, Filippo Sona, said: “The Saudi tourism market has witnessed promising growth in recent years, particularly in domestic tourism and of course religious tourism.

“In Riyadh specifically, the government is undertaking a $23 billion beautification project which will incorporate green spaces, recreational areas and art installations to improve the quality of life for residents but to also prepare the capital for a more diversified tourism

Riyadh’s hotel market witnessed growth in revenue per available room (RevPAR) and occupancy of 7 per cent and 3 per cent respectively this year, with an anticipated 4,500 keys expected to be delivered across three-, four- and five-star accommodation by 2020. This takes the total to 21,573 in the capital, from a base of 17,073 in 2018, a 26 per cent increase.

Average daily rates are also predicted to become more resilient, with 2019 anticipated to return a 1 per cent increase year-on-year.

Several high-profile sporting events have underscored Riyadh’s reputation as a sports and entertainment destination in recent years. The ABB FIA Formula E Championship’s inaugural event took place in the historic surrounds of Ad Diriyah in 2018 and will return later this year with a crowd of 100,000 people expected. The capital also hosted some of WWE’s biggest stars during the Crown Jewel event, held in November 2018.

In a new city that is being built just outside Riyadh, Qiddiya Investment Company (QIC) has unveiled the design for Six Flags Qiddiya, one of the key entertainment facilities.

“Our vision is to make Six Flags Qiddiya a theme park that delivers all the thrills and excitement that audiences from all over the world have come to expect from the Six Flags brand, and to elevate those experiences with authentic themes connected to the location. As a place that will create indelible memories and moments of delight, telling stories that resonate with our guests, is a central notion that will be evident throughout Qiddiya,” said Michael Reininger, chief executive officer of QIC.

Six Flags Qiddiya will be one of the key entertainment features in Qiddiya’s first phase when it opens in 2023.