Jakarta (Indonesia Window) – As many as 49 countries around the world can now enjoy tourist visas to Saudi Arabia provided by the Royal Government for the first time.
This was announced on Friday by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) at an event in Ad-Diriyah, an ancient city that is now a leading tourist destination, Arabnews has reported.
Kickstarting tourism is one of the reform programs of the Vision 2030 of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to prepare the kingdom’s economy in the post-oil era.
“Opening Saudi Arabia for international tourists is a historic moment for our country,” Tourism Chief Ahmed Al-Khateeb said in a statement.
He added that the visitors would be amazed by the five UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Saudi Arabia, vibrant local culture, and amazing natural beauty.
The new visa is provided for tourists from 38 countries in Europe, seven in Asia, as well as the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
The visa fee is 300 Saudi riyals (US$80) with an additional 140 Saudi riyals for travel insurance, a source told Arab News.
The visa is valid for 360 days from the date of issue for stays of 90 days or less, and a total of no more than 180 days in one year.
People from 49 countries can arrange for an online visa through a process that lasts only seven minutes, or can be arranged at a special counter upon their arrival at one of Saudi Arabia’s four international airports.
Applications for tourist visas will begin on 28 September.
Promoting Saudi Arabia as a tourist location is one of the main objectives of Vision 2030 which aims to reduce the country’s dependence on oil as the main source of income.
In addition to the holy sites in Mecca and Medina that are visited by hajj and umrah pilgrims from all over the world all the time, the Royal Government also promotes other areas as tourist destinations.
Among the tourist sites in Saudi Arabia are Al Ula which has a number of prehistoric sites; NEOM in the Tabuk Province near the Red Sea designed to be a smart city; and the Red Sea.
The Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage states that there are 10,000 historic locations in the country, five of which are UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Reporting by Indonesia Window