The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is planning to commence issuing tourist visas shortly, its authorities said on 1 November, as the guarded country is looking to encourage international visitors into its territory in a bid to radically transform its economy, which is too dependent on oil resources.
Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz, head of the Saudi tourism authority, in a statement, said that tourism would the new engine of growth as the country strives to reduce its dependence on oil money owing to a prolonged decline in fossil fuel prices. He was quoted as saying by Agence France Presse that tourist visas would be launched soon. A time-frame was, however, not specified.
Besides millions of Muslim pilgrims who visit Saudi Arabia for the yearly Hajj pilgrimage, most tourists as of now have to go through an arduous visa process and overpriced fees to gain entry into the kingdom.
Prince Sultan’s made this comment just prior to Saudi Arabia’s first archaeology convention in Riyadh in the second week of November as the government is looking to show off some of its historic sites. Crown Prince Salman had announced in August 2017 that they were planning to make 50 islands and many sites on the Red Sea into luxury resorts as part of a major tourism project.
Despite being a land gifted with natural beauty, Saudi Arabia has rarely been viewed as a happening place on the tourist map. The kingdom still bans cinemas, alcohol and theatres because it is seen as one of the most conservative countries in the world. The authorities in the last few months, however, are trying to showcase it as a moderate country by introducing a slew of reforms. In fact, the country has also decided to its women drive from June 2018. On the anvil also are plans to remove a public ban on cinemas and mixed-gender celebrations are being encouraged. With these measures, the country is attempting to show itself as a more accommodating place as it tries to lure foreign investment, which it needs badly.
If you are looking to travel to Saudi Arabia, get in touch with Y-Axis, a prominent company for immigration services, to apply for a visa.