RIYADH: 24,000 foreign visitors entered Saudi Arabia within the first 10 days of the implementation of instant tourist visas at airports in the Kingdom, according to a Saudi Foreign Ministry statement on Monday.
The ministry revealed the number of visitors from the top 10 countries using the new system — with China topping the list, with the UK and the US in second and third respectively.
European nations France and Germany were also in the list, with Canada, Malaysia and Russia just behind the top three. Australia and Kazakhstan were in ninth and tenth place.
The new visa system also allows ease of access for Muslims to perform Umrah outside of the Hajj season without the need for a sponsor, as is the case with work permit visas.
Outside of religious journeys, the new visa does not exclude any visitor on religious grounds and the successful applicants can make multiple visits to the Kingdom within a 12 month period, provided each visit does not exceed 90 days.
The recently announced visa system was introduced in a bid to create one million jobs within the Kingdom, as well as targeting 100 million tourists by 2030 as part of the Vision 2030 program.