Mon, 30 Sep 2019

Saudi Arabia Launches Multiple Entry Tourist Visa

Saudi Arabia is looking to increase tourism with the launch of e-Visas and Visas on arrival.

Applications for the visa can now be made at Saudi embassies and consulates around the world and citizens from 49 countries can also apply for an e-Visa online or get a Visa on arrival into Saudi Arabia. The e-Visa scheme is expected to be expanded to include other countries in due course.

The 49 countries are: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, China (including Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan), Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, USA and Ukraine.

Saudia Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner reg: HZ-AR23. Picture by Steven Howard of Click to enlarge.

A dedicated online portal has been launched and electronic kiosks are available at airports.

The tourist visa allows for a stay in of up to 3 months per entry, with visitors able to spend up to 90 days per 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 SAR 440 (approximately GBP 96) plus VAT.

His Excellency Ahmad Al-Khateeb, said, "For the first time, we are opening our country to tourists from all over the world. To those thinking of visiting Saudi Arabia, you won't find a warmer welcome anywhere in the world. And you won't find a people prouder to share the riches of their land with you. Make no mistake, this is Vision 2030 in action. Under the leadership of his Majesty the King and His Royal Highness the Crown Prince, we are delivering supercharging a non-oil sector that will drive growth and diversify our economy for decades to come. Saudi Arabia is opening. We are opening our economy. We are opening our society. Now we open our home and open our hearts to guests from around the world. Come, visit Saudi. And let us welcome you to Arabia."

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 achieve 100 million international and domestic overnight visits a year by 2030, attracting significant foreign and domestic investment and creating up to a million jobs. By 2030, the aim is for tourism to contribute up to 10% of the country's GDP, compared to just 3% today.

In the first phase of the program, from 2019 to 2022, the focus will be on attracting first-time visitors to "discover Saudi". The second phase of the program, from 2022 onwards, will focus on enticing visitors to "experience Saudi".

As part of phase one, over 20 new tourist sites will be developed, dramatically expanding choice and opportunity for visitors to discover the country's treasures.

As part of phase two, the full development of Saudi's giga projects will come on stream, including NEOM, Amaala, the Red Sea Project, Al-Ula, Qiddiyah and Ad-Diriyah. 

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