As many as 2.9 million foreign tourists who visited the Kingdom in the first quarter of 2012 spent more than SR 7.1 billion, according to a report released by the Tourism Information and Research Center (MAS), the statistical arm of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA).
"The total of domestic tourists in the same period reached about 5 million, who spent about SR 7.4 billion," the report said. MAS also pointed out 4.5 million tourists spent their vacation outside the Kingdom and spent SR 17 billion.
The MAS report indicated that the 2.9 million inbound tourists represented about 77 percent of total tourists, with 23 percent of them spending only one night. March has witnessed the largest number of trips reaching 1 million compared to the first quarter of 2011. The largest number of tourists arrived from Middle Eastern countries, which accounted for 1.6 million of tourists, followed by South Asia reporting 360,000 tourists, then European countries with 86,000, African countries with 83,000, and East Asia and Pacific Ocean with 62,000 combined.
Kuwait, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Egypt occupy the first five positions in terms of the number of tourists sent to the Kingdom during the first quarter of 2012.
Apart from the international transport expenses, inbound tourists to the Kingdom have spent around SR 7.1 billion, 34 percent of which was spent on accommodation facilities, 34 percent on shopping, 14 percent on transport, 7 percent on food, and 1 percent on entertainment.
Of the total 5 million domestic tourists, 94 percent spent several days, while 6 percent had one-day trips. March witnessed the largest number of domestic tourism trips reaching 1.7 million tourists.
Makkah province was the most visited destination that attracted domestic trips. It was visited by 35 percent of the total number of tourists during the first quarter of 2012, followed by Madinah (20 percent), Eastern Province (15 percent), and Riyadh province (14 percent). The amount of people who visited other regions of the Kingdom varied between 1 and 5 percent.
According to the report, 88 percent of domestic tourists used land transport during the first quarter of 2012, with 82 percent of them using private cars. The percentage of travelers who used air transport accounted for 12 percent.
Domestic tourists spent around SR 7.4 billion during the first quarter of 2012, out of which 24 percent was spent on shopping, 23 percent on food and beverages, 22 percent on accommodation, 15 percent on entertainment, and 12 percent on domestic transportation.
"Of the 4.5 million people who traveled outside the Kingdom during the period, 94 percent went on tourism," the report said, adding that January witnessed the largest number of tourism trips reaching 1.6 million tourists.