JEDDAH: The Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs has launched an e-visa service for cruise tourists.
Through Twitter, the ministry on Sunday said that the e-visa would be issued to people arriving in Saudi Arabia via cruises, and that applications could be filed through its electronic platform.
Proof of a cruise ticket purchase is required to apply for the visa, it added. Applications will then be processed before a visa is issued through the ministry’s digital embassy platform.
Tourism plays a crucial role in the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 plan for economic diversification.
As a result, Saudi authorities plan to invest up to $200 billion and welcome 100 million visitors by 2030. Vision 2030 aims to increase the tourism sector’s contribution to gross domestic product to 10 percent.
Part of the Kingdom’s strategy involves job creation and the construction of additional tourism facilities, including hotels.
Last month, the Madinah-based University of Prince Mugrin signed a deal with Cruise Saudi, an affiliate of the Public Investment Fund, to train national cadres in the tourism field.
Under the deal, young Saudis will be offered professional programs in various tourism specializations. It aims to develop the capabilities of the local workforce in the cruise industry, tourism and hospitality sectors. Cruise Saudi aims to create 50,000 direct and indirect jobs by 2035.
Similarly, Saudia, the Kingdom’s national airline, signed an agreement last November with MSC Cruises and Cruise Saudi to provide 20,000 seats on its flights from Europe and North America to Jeddah.
Military personnel and civil servants are working round the clock at Jeddah’s Red Sea Operations Center to provide tourist yachts with entry licenses. The multi-agency center assists foreign yacht owners and local agents in both Arabic and English, enabling them to enter Saudi waters.
It comes as part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s plan to reinforce tourism through marine activities, Cmdr. Hasan Al-Asmari, the manager of the center, told Arab News.