Saudi Arabia plans to reduce oil dependence of economy, welcomes foreign tourists
- The visas would be available online for about $80 without any restriction for unaccompanied women.
- Saudi Arabia is launching a new visa regime for tourists from 49 countries and appealing to foreign companies to invest in the tourism sector.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is all set to reduce its dependence on the oil generated economy and to achieve the goal, the country eyes a boost in the tourism sector.
Sharing the borders with Iraq, war-torn Yemen and home to the variety of tourists’ spots including UNESCO World Heritage Sites the Gulf country likely to raise the tourism contribution to the GDP from meager 3 percent to 10 percent by 2030.
Saudi Arabia is launching a new visa regime for tourists from 49 countries and appealing to foreign companies to invest in the tourism sector, Reuters reported. Earlier, the Kingdom, deemed as conservative, eased restrictions on the women who wanted to travel abroad and relaxed the guardianship rules as well.
Saudi Tourism Chief Ahmed Al-Khateeb in his interview with the Reuters news agency announced that the abayas will not be mandatory for the women tourists but mentioned the inclusion of modest dress at public beaches.
The visas would be available online for about $80 without any restriction for unaccompanied women as has been the case in the past. However, access to Muslim holy cities of Mecca and Medina is prohibited.
Khateeb also informed that the alcohol will remain banned, adding that they will have enough tourists to come to Saudi Arabia to enjoy other things. Among the countries included in the list of 49, US, China, Japan, Europe were top outbound targets for the Kingdom, said Khateeb.
“I am very, very sure they will have a better judgment when they come and experience life here in Saudi Arabia, and I promise them they will leave with great memories,” replied Khateeb to a question regarding the negative perception of the country.
Saudi Arabia is, currently, leading an aerial coalition in war-torn Yemen and there have also been attacks on the Saudi oil facility as a consequence of the prevailing war.
Houthis claimed the responsibility for the recent attacks at Aramco oil facility but the Kingdom places blame on the arch-rival Iran. Mr.Khateeb also said that the country is “very, very safe” and the attacks won’t impact the tourism plans.
The recent drive in the tourism sector is likely to generate more job opportunities within the country. “We have a great culture where many, many tourists would love to come and explore this culture and learn more about it and experience it,” the chairperson for Saudi Commission on Tourism and National Heritage said.
How do you see the recent development to boost the tourism sector whilst confrontations with the neighboring countries are unlikely to ease any time soon? Share your thoughts in the comment section below