Saudi Arabia is set to offer its first-ever international tourist visas for the first time under a new visa regime to be announced, the Saudi Commissi
Saudi Arabia is set to offer its first-ever international tourist visas for the first time under a new visa regime to be announced, the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage said. The move is part of the kingdom’s efforts to boost tourism.
Riyadh aims to increase international and domestic visits to 100 million a year by 2030.
“Opening Saudi Arabia to international tourists is a historic moment for our country,” Ahmad Al-Khateeb, Chairman of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, said.
Saudi Arabia has long been one of the hardest countries for tourists to enter, with visas only granted for short-term business trips, religious pilgrimage, or for travellers with family in the country. Only citizens of 49 countries are eligible to apply for the newly-introduced tourist visa to Saudi Arabia either online or upon arrival and Nigeria is not one of them.
According to the list of eligible countries on Saudi Arabia e-visa website, Nigerians and Africans cannot apply for the visa online or apply for one on arrival to the Islamic kingdom as tourists. Nigerians in their thousands visit Saudi Arabia every year for the annual Hajj and Umrah. Only citizens from 49 countries are eligible for the e-visas or visas on arrival, including the United States, Australia and several European nations.
On her e-visa website, Saudi Arabia encouraged those, whose countries are not eligible to visit Saudi embassies and consulates across the world. The list of eligible countries include, USA, Canada, Kazakhstan, Singapore, Brunei, New Zealand, South Korea, Japan, Spain, Belgium, Malaysia, Austria, Cyprus, UK, Croatia, Estonia, Andorra, Denmark, Germany, Bulgaria, France, Hungary, Czech Republic, Holland, Italy, Finland, Ireland, Lithuania, Greece.
Others are, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Iceland, Malta, Poland, Latvia, Norway, Russia, Luxembourg, Romania, Slovenia, Montenegro, Slovakia, Switzerland, Portugal, Sweden, Australia, San Marino, Ukraine, China, including Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. The eVisa will be a one-year, multiple entry visa, allowing tourists to spend up to 90 days in the country.
The ultra-conservative kingdom is on a push to attract holidaymakers as it seeks to diversify the country’s economy and reduce its dependence on oil. The tourism announcement comes less than two weeks after drone attacks targeted two facilities operated by Saudi state oil giant Aramco in the eastern province of Buqyaq, forcing the kingdom to halt about half its oil supplies afterwards.