In a historic move, Saudi Arabia
has opened its doors to international tourists for the first time with plans to grant tourist visas for visitors from 49 countries. Saudi Arabia will also ease its strict dress code for foreign women, allowing them to go without the abaya robe that is still mandatory public wear for Saudi women, said Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) chief Ahmed Al-Khateeb. Foreign women, however, will be required to wear “modest clothing,” he added.
boasts a diverse range of landscapes including the green piles of Asir, the precious stone waters of the Red Sea, the snow-secured winter fields of Tabuk and the moving sands of the Empty Quarter. Various new tourist destinations are currently under construction,including the advanced city of NEOM, the Qiddiya excitement city close to Riyadh and a scope of luxury destinations by the Red Sea.
Opening Saudi to the tourist is a key achievement in the implementation of Vision 2030, which tries to enhance the nation’s economy and reduce its dependence on oil. Saudi Arabia hopes 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 the travel industry to contribute up to 10% towards the Saudi GDP, contrasted with just 3% today.
Saudi Arabia‘s airport limit is relied upon to increment by 150 million travelers for every annum and an extra 500,000 hotel key cards will be required the nation over the coming decade. Al-Khateeb remarked: “Opening Saudi Arabia to international tourists is a historic moment for our country. Generous hospitality is at the heart of Arabian culture and we look forward to showing our guests a very warm welcome. “Visitors will be surprised and pleased by the fortunes we need to share. Five Unesco World Heritage Sites, a dynamic nearby culture and breathtaking natural beauty.
Non-Muslims will still not be allowed to visit the holy cities of Makkha and Madinah and the ban on alcohol will be maintained. Tourists from 38 countries in Europe, seven countries in Asia, as well as the US
, Australia and New Zealand, will be eligible to apply for the new visas. These will cost GBP 65.07 , with an additional cost ofGBP 30.37 for travel insurance. Visas can be obtained online via a seven-minute application process, or on arrival at machine kiosks or special counters in any of Saudi Arabia’s four international airports. The visas will be valid for 360 days from the date of issue for stays of 90 days or less, and for a total of no more than 180 days in a single year.