According to the study:
- For every one million Saudi riyals invested in the restoration of heritage creates 18 jobs and SR 460,000 in revenues
- Rehabilitation of cultural heritage sites in the Kingdom’s regions created SR 112,000 jobs
- Total cultural tourism tours in the Kingdom exceed 6.3 million trips annually.
SCTH has recently executes an economic study in collaboration with the World Bank under the theme “Evaluation of economic impact of cultural heritage in the Kingdom”, in which experts from World Bank and UNWTO took part.
The Board of Directors of SCTH in its 43rd meeting had approved the recommendations of the study which was prepared and carried out by SCTH to show the economic impact of the national cultural heritage in the generation of feasible investment projects that contribute to rise in the national income and create job opportunities to Saudi citizens.
The study provided many of the main indicators of cultural tourism in the kingdom and estimated the economic impact of the investments made in projects for the restoration and rehabilitation of cultural heritage sites.
The study findings indicate that, investment in the cultural heritage has a significant positive economic impact, in terms of its contribution to increase and diversify the national economic sources as well as create job opportunities for citizens at the site and regional levels.
The study confirmed that investment in cultural heritage generates immediate and short-term economic benefits, including increased jobs and income directly from site restoration and long-term urban regeneration, which underscores the positive effects of cultural heritage investments.
The study aimed to demonstrate the economic impact and great potential of the national cultural heritage in generating meaningful investment projects that contribute to increasing national income and providing employment opportunities for citizens.
The study estimated the total of cultural tours in the Kingdom at 6.3 million, with the total impact on cultural tourism spending in Kingdom during the year 2015 of SR 56.6 billion.
The job opportunities that are generated by tourism activities in the cultural tourism sites, in addition to the surrounding commercial activities are estimated by the study at 112000 jobs.
According to the study, each every one million Saudi riyals invested in the heritage restoration generates an average of 18 jobs and income of SR 460,000. The restoration activities at the cultural heritage which are estimated at SR 13.5 billion as the total spending on heritage sites generated 111,632 jobs within and around the heritage sites in the kingdom. By adding indirect spending, the total expenditure (domestic and inbound) resulted from the cultural tourism to reach USD 15.1 billion (USD 11.5 for domestic and USD 3.6 for inbound).
The study stated that, in 2015, the number of domestic cultural tourism trips reached 3,948,785, including visiting to museums, artistic exhibitions, cultural events, festivals, archaeological or historical areas, monuments sites, and forts. Those trips created 31,382,138 overnights and SR 4.2 billion in total expenditure. Each 73 domestic cultural trip generates at least one direct job which in total created 54,093 jobs.
On economic impact of inbound cultural tourism trips in 2015, the study stated that, that these trips which reached 2,359,112, created 25,304,822 overnights and SR 9.3 billion as total spending.
Each of 41 inbound cultural trips created at least one direct job, which in total generates 57,539 jobs. The study analysis indicated that, the higher values of daily spending occurred by international non-Haj and Umrah visitors who spent overnight domestically. In fact, the visitor in this category spent twice as much as the spending of Haj and Umrah visitors, who spend overnights domestically and four times the national visitors who spent overnights. The Haj and Umrah seekers who spend domestic nights represent the highest second category are the highest in terms of spending, with more than 10 million visitors arriving.
The study was conducted as field research in Al Bujairi Quarter in Historic Dir’iyah, stating that, where the study showed that the daily returns at the end the weekend for the commercial neighborhood was about SR 390,000, reaching SR 3.1 million per month, and supports the recruitment of 14 citizens.
The study added that, any improvement made in a heritage area through restoration of one or more sites will lead to upgrading and activation of local urban areas and therefore attracting more domestic and inbound spending.
The study recommended for the necessity of SCTH to collect more information and undertake necessary analysis of investment priorities in addition to other investments by public administrations in cultural heritage.
Information gathering from local residents, business owners and visitors in heritage sites and surrounding areas, through questionnaires and the like, will help in measuring the impacts on the promotion of urbanism.
The highest priority for assessing the economic impact of cultural heritage is to conduct site-level surveys and expand the collection and analysis of data for measuring heritage expenditure and investments, as well as expanding application of the impact analysis and rehabilitation of heritage works to additional sites outside the sample sites covered in this study.
It stressed on implementing a national awareness campaign to achieve greater local interest in visiting and investing in the vicinity of cultural heritage sites, besides reducing market restrictions and access restrictions for visitors interested in cultural heritage.
The study further explains that, non-Haj and Umrah visitors send over than domestic visitors, thus generating more jobs and economic activities per visitor.
Attracting those visitors requires limiting procedural restrictions such as (entry visa to the Kingdom) in addition to launching a marketing campaign targeting inbound visitors. International tour operators for cultural heritage concerned people to ensure sustainability of expanded visits.
Heritage sites must be prepared to receive the visitors through friendly facilities as well as tour guides and world-class information signboards.