Strategic Business Enablers and Infrastructure Insights of the Saudi Arabian Tourism Industry: An Assessment

Strategic Business Enablers and Infrastructure Insights of the Saudi Arabian Tourism Industry: An Assessment

Nadeem Ahmed Bashir, Premkumar Balaraman, Aroop Mukherjee
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2603-3.ch003
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The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is currently facing economic and sectoral promotion challenges. A number of market-supporting aspects of government support, the tourism industry, transport and accommodation access, connectivity infrastructure, and financial services have been monitored to ensure progress in transparency. The aim of this chapter is to assess and gain insight into the strategic importance of the tourism ecosystem, infrastructure, and allied services for the sustainability of the business. The chapter also seeks to identify potential areas of the Saudi Arabian tourism industry and benchmarks for world-class tourist destinations and to identify the scope for improvement in the various areas of strategic business enablers.
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Due to the dwindling oil supplies in the West Asian countries, the respective governments have focused on alternate modes of economic sustainability and income generation especially the United Arab Emirates, which is the forerunner in this trend, followed by other peers’ countries like Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Bahrain. The main considerations that guide the potential for tourism is attributable to Saudi Arabia's strategic area in the Middle East, Religious, chronicled and social enrichment and the Government’s arrangements to put resources into advancing the countries emerging destinations and places of interest to tourists is viewed as a changing pattern from religious tourism (Dudley, 2013).

The sudden increase in the number of tourists can be attributed to the growing popularity due to short breaks of three nights or less. The potential for the growth of tourism industry in Saudi Arabia is very promising especially in leisure tourism, event/business tourism, medical tourism, and youth tourism in addition to the existing strength of Religious Tourism with some of the significant benefits in the form of employment generation, income potential, and related exchanges. The tourism industry in Saudi Arabia is distinguished as a source for generating government income with the requirement for new marketing and promotion strategies (Sherbini, Aziz, Sidin, & Nerina, 2016).

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is currently facing economic challenges and problems in the sectorial promotion (Johnson, 2010). However, emphasize in training and education on tourism will provide the skills needed to address these challenges and ensure success in implementing and maintaining sustainable tourism practices. According to a survey from the World Travel and Tourism Board (2015), the overall contribution of travel work and the tourism sector is 1,077,000 jobs in 2014 (11,1% of total employment, with wider development implications, supply chain, and profit impacts). This will rise by 7.7% to 1,159,500 employees in 2015 (11.6% of total jobs). In 2025, the number of Travel and Tourism workforce projections is 1691,000 (12.8%), and the year to date is 3.8%. From the perspective of these factors, the chapter seeks to explore the business enablers and challenges of Saudi Arabia's tourism industry from a strategic and benchmarking perspective.

Different market supporting facets of government support, tourism infrastructure, transport access and accommodation, connectivity resources, and financial services were checked for clarification on development using primary (quality) data, and secondary data. The chapter also attempts to benchmark the gaps between the Saudi Arabian Tourism industry and some of the World-class Tourist destinations. The chapter discussed is descriptive and qualitative in nature, which addresses the operational enablers of tourism fundamentals and associated infrastructure. However, Saudi Arabia's tourism capacity offers insights, and related criteria are extracted from primary data sources by holding three-member, focused group discussions and face-to-face interviews with tourism experts on open-ended questions (Appendix 1). Six such focus group interviews and 15 face-to-face interviews were performed over a period of six weeks. Appropriate themes have been established by summarizing the interviews and triangulation of different methods, including secondary tourism data, verifying the different facts and gaps of the industry from a business sustainability perspective.

The forthcoming section highlights the basics of tourism fundamentals, which are later utilized in-depth in the strategic analysis section of the chapter. Strategic planning and analysis remain one of the most popular management tools (Phillips & Moutinho, 2014), and the chapter utilizes such an approach to assess and understand the key business enablers of the Saudi Arabian Tourism Sector. Further sections of the chapter explore the potential areas of Saudi Arabia's tourism, benchmarking major tourist destinations, as well as identifying the potential areas of Saudi Arabia's tourism sector and identify the gaps with some of the world's top tourist destinations.

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