An Investigation into the Current State of International Conference Tourism in Saudi Arabia and an Assessment of its Future Development Possibilities
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Reason for embargo
To enable publication of the research
This research study aims to assess the potential for Saudi Arabia to become an international conference destination. Faced with problems created by rising unemployment, a rapidly growing population, and fears over dependence on petroleum output and price, the kingdom is currently looking to develop new sources of employment and national revenue. Having joined the World Trade Organization in 2005, Saudi Arabia is committed to liberalizing its markets and opening to foreign participation by creating investment and business opportunities. Developing an international conference sector is considered a potentially suitable way to meet the current domestic and international imperatives to change and the challenges these present. The growth of new markets and international conference destinations in a globalizing economy is leading to increased research. However, the field is still young: there has been limited attention paid to the perspective of delegates and much of the research has been concerned with western destinations. As no other study has been carried out into the potential of this sector in Saudi Arabia, or the Gulf region, this research makes an original contribution to knowledge. A mixed methods approach was adopted to explore and assess both the practical capacity of the country to host international conferences and the socio-political context that might impact on this development. The primary sources of data were officials in the field and visiting delegates, whose views and knowledge were obtained through the use of both quantitative and qualitative methods (through a questionnaire and interviews respectively). The results are integrated in the final discussion. The findings indicate that, although Saudi Arabia has the practical capacity to host international conferences, the effects of an ambivalent attitude towards opening up to the outside world – expressed through a number of factors embedded in the socio-political situation in the kingdom – has led to an impasse which is blocking development.
PhD in Management Studies