Saudi Project To Boost Religious Tourism

In anticipation of the 15.8 million visitors that are expected to flock to Saudi Arabia for religious tourism by 2014, Abdul Latif Jameel Real Estate Investment Company is investing ten billion Saudi riyals (Dh9.7 billion) to develop new hotels in Makkah.

The Saudi developer is pumping in four billion Saudi riyals to construct 8,500 new rooms in a group of hotels expected to be delivered in five years and spending six billion Saudi riyals on the land, the company announced yesterday.

The Jabal Al Kaaba project is one of several burgeoning hospitality projects in Saudi Arabia aimed at accommodating demand for rooms especially around the busy Haj season and Umrah.

The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) estimates that there are approximately 600 million national and international religious and spiritual voyages in the world, of which 40 per cent take place in Europe and around half in Asia.

The UNWTO estimates that 300 to 330 million tourists visit the world’s key religious sites each year. According to the Religious Conference Management Association, in 2006 more than 14.7 million people attended religious meetings (RCMA members), an increase of more than ten million from 1994 with 4.4 million attendees.

The world’s largest form of mass religious tourism takes place at the annual Haj pilgrimage to Makkah.

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