No tourist visas for foreigners

Updated 27 December 2014

No tourist visas for foreigners

The Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) has rejected media reports that it would soon start issuing tourist visas for overseas visitors.
“The previous postponement of tourism visas is still valid. There is no intention at present to issue this kind of visa again,” the SCTA said in a statement on Thursday night.
The SCTA said that the decision, as published in Um Al-Qura, the official government newspaper, has clearly indicated that there has been a postponement to “an unspecified date, so all efforts of the SCTA will now be focused on completing the infrastructure and providing proper services for local tourism needs only.”
It urged the media to seek clarification directly from it on tourism matters. It stressed that its current priority is to develop local tourism for its major target markets, which are citizens and residents.
The SCTA’s response comes in the wake of media reports earlier this week that the organization would issue these visas to boost the tourism industry.
The report stated that an estimated 1.5 million people a year would come to the country on these visas, providing the national economy with about SR35 billion over five years. This was based on each tourist spending about SR5,000 in the country.
Investment in Saudi tourism and travel markets this year has been estimated at SR170 billion, of which SR70 billion was generated from domestic tourism.

Saudi tourism megaproject aims to turn the Red Sea green

Updated 20 October 2019

Saudi tourism megaproject aims to turn the Red Sea green

  • Development will protect endangered hawksbill turtle, while coral research could help save the Great Barrier Reef

RIYADH: Key ecological targets are driving Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea tourism megaproject, its leader has told Arab News.

The development will not only protect the habitat of the endangered hawksbill turtle, but could also save coral reefs that are dying elsewhere in the world, said Red Sea Development Company Chief Executive John Pagano.

The project is taking shape in a 28,000 square kilometer region of lagoons, archipelagos, canyons and volcanic geology between the small towns of Al-Wajh and Umluj on the Kingdom’s west coast.

One island, Al-Waqqadi, looked like the perfect tourism destination, but was discovered to be a breeding ground for the hawksbill. “In the end, we said we’re not going to develop it. It shows you can balance development and conservation,” Pagano said.

Scientists are also working to explain why the area’s coral reef system — fourth-largest in the world —  is thriving when others around the world are endangered.

“To the extent we solve that mystery, the ambition would be to export that to the rest of the world,” Pagano said. “Can we help save the Great Barrier Reef or the Caribbean coral that has been severely damaged?”


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