Probably you have noticed that Saudi Arabia is diversifying its economy by moving away from oil.
To achieve this, the Saudi government launched the Quality of Life Program. They are planning to invest 130 billion riyals (1 riyal = 0.26 USD) in this program.
One of the goals of the program is to promote sports activities in the local communities.
The 2020 Quality of Life Program aims to achieve non-oil Gross Domestic Production growth in the related sectors by 20% per year until 2020, and the contribution of local content in the relevant sectors by 67% until 2020.
Another interesting change in Saudi Arabia that is good for future golf tourism is the tourist visa offering to citizens of
- The United States of America,
- EU countries.
Golf Saudi & Troon cooperation
These insights are important to understand the significance of the cooperation between Golf Saudi and Troon.
Central to the partnership will be the support Troon provides Golf Saudi in the development of its five core pillars:
- Access & Infrastructure,
- Mass Participation,
- National Team & Elite Development,
- Events and
Troon will provide specific counsel in areas such as
- infrastructure development,
- operational planning, and
- financial best practices.
Golf Saudi’s challenges
We have to understand that Saudi Arabia is not like Qatar, Abu Dhabi, or Dubai where the society and the country’s leadership is more open to western values and lifestyles.
This means without changes in the political and cultural environment in Saudi Arabia, golf will be a men-only sport like camel & horse riding, falconry, hunting with hounds or football (soccer).
It will be challenging to make golf affordable for the masses too.
At the same time, I see a huge potential in the region between Medina and Makkah.
Mastercard’s Global Destination Cities Index 2019 found that Makkah is the 13th most popular destination.
In 2018, it attracted 10 million tourists. In the same year, the overnight international visitor spending was 20.09 billion USD.
The very same report says that the visitor expenditure per resident was $2347. The ration of international overnight expenditure to GDP was 9%.
Another opportunity for the country is bleisure. The worldwide business travel spending set to reach $1.4 trillion by 2020.
The luxury travel consumer is a very interesting segment.
According to Bain & Company, the global luxury product sales grew by 6% in 2018 and led to €260 billion in sales, which is expected to balloon to €271-276 billion in 2019.
Just like in other parts of life, we can see a shift in luxury consumption toward experiences such as travel and gastronomy.
In 2016 the global luxury market exceeded 1 trillion Euros thanks to cars, hospitality, and gastronomy.