Young people in Saudi Arabia are more interested in working in tourism than in any other sector of the economy, according to a new report commissioned by The Red Sea Development Company.
Some 91 per cent of those surveyed said they are either very interested or somewhat interested in working in tourism – higher than any other sector. Technology (67 per cent) was the only industry that garnered a stronger preference than tourism (63 per cent).
"Tourism is a strategic growth industry for Saudi Arabia," said John Pagano, chief executive of The Red Sea Development Company. "It is a creator of jobs, a driver of economic growth and an essential bridge between cultures that fosters a greater understanding and appreciation of this unique and intriguing nation."
The report, Future Faces of Tourism, was based on face-to-face interviews with more than 850 Saudi Arabian nationals in February and March this year. In total, 715 interviews were conducted with prospective employees aged between 16-34 and 140 were conducted with 'parent influencers'.
About 67 per cent of women who were surveyed, said they are very interested in working in the tourism sector, compared to 60 per cent of men. Eighty six per cent agree that the sector provided good employment opportunities for young people in the country.
When asked what they were looking for from a career, 33 per cent said the most important consideration is salary, 22 per cent cited job security and 19 per cent the opportunity for personal growth.
The Red Sea Development is among a number of key projects being undertaken as part of Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030 plan, which aims to increase the tourism sector's contribution to more than 10 per cent of the kingdom’s gross domestic product by 2030 – up from 3 per cent currently.
The project, which covers more than 28,000 square kilometres including an archipelago of more than 90 islands, is the only one on Saudi Arabia's ambitious roster that is solely focused on tourism, Mr Pagano said.
The first phase, which is backed by the Public Investment Fund, will cost about 28-29 billion Saudi riyals to develop, he said during a media briefing on Wednesday.
Some 15bn riyals worth of projects will be awarded by the end of this year.
The first phase is set to complete by 2023, with the entire project due to be delivered by 2030.
"Once completed our destination will support 70,000 direct, indirect and induced jobs providing unrivalled opportunities to people throughout the country,” Mr Pagano said.