24,000 foreign tourists visited Saudi Arabia since country opened to tourism
Saudi Arabia announced that 24,000 visitors traveled to the Kingdom in the first ten days since the country opened up for tourism and started issuing tourist visas for the first time.
“In 10 days, some 24,000 foreigners entered Saudi Arabia on a tourist visa,” the television reported, citing the Saudi foreign ministry.
On September 27 Saudi Arabia announced that it would start offering tourist visas, opening up the kingdom to holidaymakers as part of a push to diversify its economy away from oil.
Up until September 27, the ultra-conservative Islamic state only issued visas to Muslim pilgrims, foreign workers and recently to spectators at sporting or cultural events.
To encourage arrivals, authorities announced on Sunday they would allow unmarried foreign couples to rent hotel rooms together.
Kickstarting tourism is one of the center pieces of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030 reform programme to prepare the Arab world’s largest economy for a post-oil era.
Citizens from 49 countries are now eligible for online e-visas or visas on arrival, including the United States, Australia, several European nations, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, China and Kazakhstan.