Saudi Arabia to resume tourist visas soon, official says


Saudi Arabia plans to resume tourist visas very soon after suspending them last year because of the coronavirus, Bloomberg reported citing a Saudi official.

The Kingdom is also working with other Middle Eastern and European nations on a unified protocol to facilitate travel, the official said, speaking on Wednesday on condition of anonymity to discuss plans that have not been made public.

Encouraging foreign tourism is a key plank in the Kingdom’s efforts to reduce its reliance on oil. In September 2019, Saudi Arabia opened its borders after having long been one of the hardest countries in the world to visit unless coming on a pilgrimage.

It wants the sector to contribute 10 percent of GDP by 2030, but the virus has crimped those plans. After limiting incoming tourism in February 2020, authorities suspended all incoming and outgoing travel to try to contain the virus’s spread.

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