Domestic tourist spending reached more than SR28 billion last year, according to MAS, the statistical arm of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities ( SCTA ).
More than 23,000 domestic tourism trips were made in 2013 according to MAS, said Majed Al-Sheddi, director-general of information and partnership relations and official SCTA spokesman.
Al-Sheddi scotched rumors circulating in newspapers that said that around 14 million foreign tourists visited the Kingdom in a single year.
“This figure, quoted by Hamad Al-Sheikh, vice president of SCTA for marketing and programs, during the tourism information evening refers to the number of pilgrims who entered the Kingdom on Haj and Umrah visas, including pilgrims who come on short visit visas,” he said.
Others visitors come to the Kingdom for work or to attend conferences or exhibitions or for visiting relatives and the like, he added.
The SCTA has maintained that all its activities and programs are solely devoted to domestic tourists and that such a campaign has yet to include foreign tourists in its target audience.
“The SCTA persistently seeks to meet domestic tourist aspirations and provide visitors with a highly integrated tourism experience in a manner that suits the Kingdom’s status and name and displays its level of progress,” he said.
“Moreover, thousands of expatriates of different nationalities themselves constitute an important tourism market,” Al-Sheddi said.
Originally published on www.zawya.com