Saudi Arabia has opened its doors to the world after it announced that tourist visas will be available to citizens from 49 countries. The Saudi authorities intend to extend the e-visa scheme to other countries in due course. It is hoped that Mauritius will also be included.
For the first time, tourists can now apply for a visa through Saudi embassies and consulates across the world
Marking a milestone in Saudi Arabia’s history, Ahmed Al Khateeb, Chairman of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Heritage (SCTH), announced the launch of the tourist visa for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia at an event in Ad-Diriyah, a Unesco World Heritage Site in Riyadh.
Citizens from 49 countries will also be able to apply for an e-visa or receive a visa on arrival into Saudi Arabia. A dedicated online portal at visitsaudi.com was also launched and electronic kiosks are set to be available at airports to facilitate requests.
The tourist visa allows for a stay of up to 3 months per entry, with visitors able to spend up to 90 days a year in Saudi Arabia. The visa is valid for one year with multiple entries.
The cost of applying for an e-visa or a visa on arrival is 440 riyals (around $117) plus VAT.
Saudi Arabia intends to extend the e-visa scheme to other countries in due course.
Opening Saudi Arabia to tourism is a key milestone in the implementation of Vision 2030, which seeks to diversify the country’s economy and reduce its dependence on oil.
Saudi Arabia expects to increase international and domestic visits to 100 million a year by 2030, attracting significant foreign and domestic investment and creating a million jobs.
By 2030, the aim is for tourism to contribute up to 10 per cent towards Saudi Arabia’s GDP, compared to just 3 per cent today.
These agreements demonstrate the private sector’s confidence in the potential of the country’s tourism sector, and its prospects for future growth.
Ahmed Al Khateeb, Chairman of SCTH, also explained: “These exciting and wide-ranging agreements are only the beginning of the investment opportunities that will arise within Saudi Arabia, the fastest growing tourism sector on earth. We anticipate more businesses from around the world will establish operations within the Kingdom, as its unique attractions, culture and natural beauty become more widely appreciated.”
The 49 countries:
China (Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan)
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