Riyadh (dpa), 27 Sept, 2019 - Saudi Arabia will open its doors to international tourists for the first time under a new visa regime to be announced later Friday, the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage said.
The move is part of the kingdom’s efforts to wean its economy off oil. 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, the chairman of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, said on Friday.
The tourist visa system will take effect from Saturday, Saudi newspaper Okaz reported.
The new visa system will be available to citizens of 49 countries, the report said without elaborating.
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.