Saudi Arabia aims at 11.4 million foreign visitors in 2010

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DUBAI – Saudi Arabia aims to attract more than 11.4 million foreign tourists, including pilgrims, in 2010, according to a tourism official.

Abdullah S. Al-Jehani, Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) vice-president for marketing and media affairs, said the country received more than 10.5 million visitors, including pilgrims and businessmen, in 2009.

“The figure includes three million umrah pilgrims and about 1.7 million haj pilgrims,” the SCTA official was quoted as saying by Arab News daily.

According to him, Saudi Arabia had welcomed tourist groups from the West, Japan, China and other countries.

Those intending to visit the kingdom should use registered tour operators, he said.

The newspaper said that Saudi Arabia was one of the top 22 highest inbound travel markets in the world, and had a combined annual tourism market of almost SR52 billion (RM45.9 billion).