Saudi Arabia to Offer First-ever International Tourist Visas
Saudi Arabia will open its doors to international tourists for the first time under a new visa regime to be announced Friday evening, the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage said.
The move is part of the kingdom’s efforts to boost tourism.
Riyadh aims to increase international and domestic visits to 100 million a year by 2030.
“Opening Saudi Arabia to international tourists is a historic moment for our country,” Ahmad Al-Khateeb, Chairman of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, said in a media release on Friday.
Saudi Arabia has long been one of the hardest countries for tourists to enter, with visas only granted for short-term business trips, religious pilgrimage, or for travellers with family in the country.
Details about the new visa scheme and wider tourism plans will be announced at a gala event on Friday evening (local time) at Ad-Diriyah, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Riyadh.
The ultra-conservative kingdom is on a push to attract holidaymakers as it seeks to diversify the country’s economy and reduce its dependence on oil.
The tourism announcement comes less than two weeks after drone attacks targeted two facilities operated by Saudi state oil giant Aramco in the eastern province of Buqyaq, forcing the kingdom to halt about half its oil supplies afterwards.