New Saudi visa scheme to be announced 27 September, 50 nationalities expected to benefit

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Madain Saleh
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Najran
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Wahba Crater
Updated 06 September 2019

New Saudi visa scheme to be announced 27 September, 50 nationalities expected to benefit

  • An event later this month will promote “the sights and sounds” of Saudi Arabia
  • Travel experts say tourism and leisure could account for 10 percent of gross domestic product by 2030

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia is putting the final touches to a “game changer” initiative to attract international tourists, with a visa scheme to open the Kingdom to visitors from up to 50 countries, Okaz newspaper reported.

Although not officially confirmed by the government, industry sources told Arab New an event to showcase Saudi tourist attractions would take place this month, with a major global advertising campaign launched in the presence of leading international travel and tourism experts.

Leisure tourism — in a market hitherto dominated by pilgrimage — is a vital part of the Vision 2030 plan to diversify the economy away from oil dependency. Travel experts say tourism and leisure could account for 10 percent of gross domestic product by 2030, adding more than $100 billion a year to the economy.

The event on Sept. 27 will promote “the sights and sounds” of Saudi Arabia to a regional and international audience. Progress on other tourism projects — such as a nationwide digital events calendar and plans to expand the successful “Saudi Seasons” concept — will also feature. 

Work is already underway on a luxury resort on the Red Sea coast, visitor facilities at the historic AlUla area and an entertainment city at Qiddiya outside Riyadh.

HIGHLIGHTS

• An event to showcase Saudi tourist attractions would take place on Sept. 27.

• Leisure tourism is a vital part of the Vision 2030 plan to diversify the economy away from oil dependency.

• Travel experts say tourism and leisure could account for 10 percent of GDP by 2030.

• The event will promote ‘the sights and sounds’ of the KSA to a regional and global audience.

The economic effects of new tourist visas will be significant. The World Travel and Tourism Council said leisure and tourism accounted for 9 percent of the Kingdom’s economy in 2018, and forecast it would rise to 10.4 percent by 2029, calculated by direct and indirect economic impact. 

The property consultancy Colliers International estimated in a recent report that tourism and travel would make up 9 percent of the total GDP by 2026.

Imad Damrah, managing director of Colliers Saudi Arabia, told Arab News that foreign tourism visas would have a significant impact. “It will be a game changer for tourism, leisure and entertainment in Saudi Arabia,” he said.

“It will not just encourage more new people to come, but it will be easier for people who have already decided to come.”

Damrah believes Saudi Arabia can hold its own in the global tourism business. “Let’s get some perspective on this. If you come to Saudi Arabia, you can still go to Florida, or Dubai, as well. Every destination has its own attraction,” he said.


Saudi Arabia announces reinstatement of coronavirus restrictions in Jeddah for 15 days

Updated 5 min 29 sec ago

Saudi Arabia announces reinstatement of coronavirus restrictions in Jeddah for 15 days

  • Restrictions will come into effect from Saturday and are a response to an evaluation of the health situation in the city
  • The curfew in Jeddah will be between 3 p.m. and 6 a.m. and mosques will close once again

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Interior has announced a series of restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19 in Jeddah that will last for 15 days.
The restrictions will come into effect from Saturday and are a response to an evaluation of the health situation in the city by the relevant authorities.
The curfew in Jeddah will be between 3 p.m. and 6 a.m. as of Saturday and mosques will close once again.
Employees of ministries, government agencies and private sector companies in the city will not work from the office.
Restaurants and cafes will no longer serve food and drink on their premises and gatherings of more than five people are prohibited.
Domestic flights and train journeys will continue to operate and people can enter and exit the city outside of the curfew.
Those people who were exempted from previous restrictions continue to be exempted from the current restrictions provided that they comply with the relevant procedures.
The interior ministry added the number of critical cases in Riyadh is being monitored and appropriate action will be taken should the number of coronavirus cases continue to rise as has been the case recently.