QUESTION FOR THE WEEK: Saudi Arabia opens its doors to tourism, but what are its current best connected international country markets?

In our new weekly series to break up those Monday morning office blues, The Blue Swan Daily will be testing your knowledge and insight into the aviation and travel industry. This is all just for fun, but who knows? We may be able to find a prize somewhere around CAPA HQ. This week’s question is detailed below. The answers will be revealed and winners (if there are any correct entries) announced next week alongside our next question.


Things have been changing in Saudi Arabia as part of a reform programme that is breaking down the barriers for visitors to travel into the Kingdom. But, in a historic move, Saudi Arabia has now firmly opened its doors to international visitors for the first time after revealing details last week of a new visa regime at a gala event held at Ad-Diriyah in Riyadh, one of a number of  UNESCO World Heritage Sites across the Kingdom.

The introduction of reforms to its visa regulations and dress-code restrictions for women will especially encourage foreign tourists into a country with lots to see, but which previously had not been on many traveller schedules. The move has been coming as Saudi Arabia continues to deliver its Vision 2030 reform agenda diversifying its economy away from a reliance on oil.

Tourism is a core part of this agenda, after all, Saudi Arabia is already one of the world’s biggest tourist markets, albeit through religious pilgrimage. These arrivals are focused purely on the holy sites at Mecca and Medina, but there is much more to see across the Kingdom, and investments are being made in support infrastructure for expected future arrivals.

Saudi Arabia expects to increase international and domestic visits to 100 million a year by 2030, attracting significant foreign and domestic investment and creating a million jobs. By 2030, the aim is for tourism to contribute up to 10% towards the Saudi GDP, compared to just 3% today. Billions of dollars are being spent to improve infrastructure and develop heritage, cultural and entertainment sites.

Similarly, the country’s airport capacity is expected to increase by 150 million passengers per annum while  an additional 500,000 hotel key cards will be needed across the country over the coming decade.

Our QUESTION OF THE WEEK is…Saudi Arabia opens its doors to tourism, but what are its current best connected international country markets?

JOIN IN THE FUN:  Send your answers to: The Blue Swan Daily Content Team

We will be revealing the answers at the same time next week, when we will be setting another question.


Last week we asked… As eyes turn to Japan for the Rugby World Cup, which five performing nations will see the largest rise in support based on advanced flight bookings to the country?

The opening week of the Rugby World Cup concluded with the best match of the tournament to date as Wales defeated Australia. Just 24 hours earlier, the hosts, Japan, and surprised with victory against Ireland. Many of the 20 performing nations have support from travelling fans that have taken the opportunity to sample the delights of Japan while supporting their country. According to Travelport, it is the United Kingdom that is home to the most travellers, no surprise when you consider it includes supporters from three countries – England, Scotland and Wales. Supporters from the World Champions, New Zealand, follow, with Ireland ranked third, South Africa fourth and Argentina fifth. Australia, Georgia, Namibia, Western Samoa and Tonga make up the rest of the top ten.