Establishment of a Market Research Unit in Saudi Arabia

About

Summary

In 2001, the Saudi Arabian government took the decision to pursue tourism as an economic activity, and established the Supreme Commission for Tourism as the public sector body to plan, monitor, market and regulate the sector.  Acorn assisted Ernst & Young during this initial master planning stage and produced a 5-year plan for tourism development.

The next phase, on which Acorn were contracted for 4 years, was to establish a market research and statistics unit within the Supreme Commission for Tourism to measure the volume, characteristics and value of tourism in the country.  This involved the establishment of a number of surveys and other primary data collection methodologies, the development of a Tourism Satellite Account (TSA) to measure the economic significance of tourism, and the day-to-day management and operation of the Unit.

Our Approach

This long-term project required one of Acorn’s directors (Kevin Millington) to be based full-time in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, for 4 years, working in the Supreme Commission for Tourism and with his main Saudi counterpart, building up a research unit, training staff and implementing a robust system of tourism statistics.

At the outset of the project there were no tourism statistics at all in Saudi Arabia, so large sample inbound and outbound visitor surveys were designed and implemented, and a domestic tourism household survey was also launched, using the snowball method due to social restrictions in the country.  These we followed by the development of a large inventory of tourism businesses, and several ad-hoc surveys measuring various elements of the tourism sector such as events, festivals, local attitudes towards tourism, and market segments such as religious travel, diving and eco-tourism.

Over time, as increasing volumes of data were collected, a tourism database was developed for the storage, processing and dissemination of information, and a web site was established on which all the statistics and other research findings were published.  We also held tourism workshops to involve the sector, present our work, and better understand the needs of the industry.

Outcome

The Research Unit was called MAS, and Arabic acronym, and continues to be the central tourism research agency within what is now the Ministry of Tourism.  It is now, arguably, the most respected tourism research department in the Middle East.  Latest reports and other data can be found on www.mas.gov.sa

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Establishment of a Market Research Unit in Saudi Arabia

Client:

Saudi Arabia Ministry of Tourism,

Location:

Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia Ministry of Tourism

This project contributes to the following United Nations Sustainable Development Goals:

  • Acorn AwardsSDG 8 - Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and work SDG 8 - Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and work 2020

Contact us

3 Woodland Enterprise Centre, Hastings Road,
Flimwell, East Sussex, TN5 7PR, UK

+44 (0) 1580 879970

contact@acorntourism.co.uk