Saudi Seasons cannibalising revenue from non-season period

10 August 2023 2 min. read

The Saudi Seasons initiative has been designed to boost tourism revenue and get people spending, but new research shows that the initiative might backfire on non-season periods.

The Saudi Seasons initiative was launched in 2019 by Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Tourism, which planned 11 different seasons in the various regions of the country to be rife with entertainment and commerce. The goal was to further boost tourism in the Kingdom, which has already been investing heavily in the industry in recent years.

But it turns out Saudi Seasons might not be as good for business as leaders in the Kingdom may have hoped. A new report from Saudi management consulting firm Mukatafa reveals that 65% of participants in a business survey said their revenues were negatively affected, with only 13% reporting a positive impact.

Saudi Seasons cannibalising revenue from non-season period

The objective for setting up the events and happenings around the seasons is to increase tourism spending, create more jobs, and to enhance quality of life. The 11 seasons include Riyadh Season, Jeddah Season, Sharqiah Season (Eastern Province), and various other seasons related to regions of the Kingdom or coinciding with Muslim holidays.

While spending in the actual seasons has been found to pick up, spending in the non-season period (described as ‘permanent retail’ by the authors) has been down. Among those sectors most negatively affected by the Seasons were restaurants and E-commerce in all sectors.

Saudi Seasons cannibalising revenue from non-season period

The report recommends a number of actions that could reduce the negative impact on business that Saudi Seasons were observed to have: Attracting more tourists during the seasons, increasing integration of seasons between different cities, organizing joint activities with foreign participants, and rescheduling seasons to avoid conflicting with existing retail seasons.

Various initiatives have been aggressively put forth by Saudi leaders in order to boost industries other than oil and gas as the country moves towards diversifying the economy and eventually reaching net zero emissions. The Kingdom has created a roadmap for reaching net zero: Saudi Vision 2030, which is a set of ambitious climate goals in line with the Paris Agreement.