Saudi Arabia To Offer Visas For Tourists For The First Time - Read More To Find Out

Saudi Arabia, the very reserved province, has announced it's opening of tourist visas for the very first time. This means one can head to Saudi for a holiday and no one will object or abstain you from going around the kingdom. 

The move has been initiated in the interest of boosting the economy other than the oil revenue that adds to the revenue of the country. 

Opening gates to tourism is Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's Vision 2030 reform programme. It is being initiated to prepare the Arab economy for a post-oil era. 

Since the attacks on Saudi's oil infrastructure left Saudi devastated just two weeks ago,this move has been rolled out post the strike, which has caused the fear of further regional strife. 

Tourism chief Ahmed al-Khateeb said that- "Opening Saudi Arabia to international tourists is a historic moment for our country,and that Visitors will be surprised... by the treasures we have to share -- five UNESCO World Heritage Sites, a vibrant local culture and breathtaking natural beauty."

Khateeb revealed that online tourist visa applications will be rolled out to 49 countries on Saturday. He added that the country will be removing strict in-house dress code for women tourists. The already established dress code which is the body shrouding Abaya robe will be ruled out for women tourists. Khateeb added that there will however be a restriction or rule of "modest dressing". 

However there will be a visa allowance for expats, their dependants, and for those enroute a pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina in the desert kingdoms with rich architectural heritage. 

Saudi is a state which isn't so easy to bring in a large foot-fall of tourists. Reason being it's conservatism and strict social code. 

The year before 2019, to initiate a floor for tourism, it had started issuing visas for sports and cultural events to process the industry of Saudi for foreign tourists. But it wasn't a big hit for obvious reasons. 

To bring forth a boost, the kingdom plans on initiating a drive to liberalise state laws, bring in further entertainment factors and attractions like cinemas and mixed gender concerts. 

Observers say, " International criticism of the kingdom's human rights record, including the gruesome murder last year of critic Jamal Khashoggi and a crackdown on female activists, could further put off foreign visitors" 

Threats like the recent oil attacks are also said to affect the tourism influx of Saudi. The government expects a ten percent as opposed to the current  three percent being contributed from the tourism industry from 2030. It expects a hike in tourists, both foreign and domestic, of Up to a hundred million by 2030. 

For this, Saudi has to prepare for infrastructure that is capable of accommodating these number of tourists which includes hotels and increased number of hotel rooms. This is naturally set to give rise to further employment in the kingdoms amidst the current scenario of youth unemployment. Historic locations are being developed including Mada'in Saleh, which houses sandstone tombs. 

The entertainment city - Quiddiya was also launched last year which roofed a safari area, Moto sports and theme parks, which certainly will draw goobetrotters. 

Saudi Arabia is now including a whole lot of investments into the tourism sector to attract tourists from now on. 

What do you think of this move by Saudi Arabia? Let us know in the comments below! 

This post was published by Sony Punjabi

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