Riyadh: The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia intends to resume tourist visas very soon after they were suspended months ago due to the COVID-19 pandemic, local media reported.
An official said that the Kingdom is also working with other countries in the Middle East and Europe on a unified protocol to facilitate travel, Bloomberg reported.
Encouraging foreign tourism is considered a major factor in the Kingdom’s efforts to diversify its economy. In September 2020, it opened its borders after being one of the most difficult countries in the world to visit unless traveling to perform Hajj and Umrah.
In late February, the kingdom closed its borders to foreign pilgrims and tourists from at least 25 countries. In March, it banned all travel in and out of the country.
The Minister of Tourism, Ahmed Al-Khatib, expected, in early May, that the Kingdom would add 500 thousand new hotel rooms of various levels during the next five years.
The Kingdom has also launched a number of mega projects such as the city of Neom, whose investments amount to about 500 billion dollars, the Red Sea project for development, Amaala, which accommodates more than 11,000 hotel rooms, as well as the Qiddiya project.
In addition to a large number of tourism projects through which the Kingdom seeks to involve the private sector in the process of development and diversification of the economy.
The Saudi authorities lifted the suspension of citizens’ travel abroad and announced the opening of the land, air and sea ports from May 17.
The Ministry of Interior said that it would allow the travel of citizens who received two doses of the protective vaccination from the COVID-19 virus or at least one dose two weeks before travel, and those who recovered from infection with the virus within less than six months and those under eighteen.
It is noteworthy that the ministry of Hajj and Umrah on May 9 announced the Kingdom’s intention to establish the ritual of Hajj for the current year, in order to ensure the health and safety of pilgrims, after more than a year of imposing severe restrictions on entering the Grand Mosque and other holy places, reducing the number of worshipers and pilgrims due to the outbreak of the COVID-19.