This past weekend Saudia Arabia celebrated a historic moment. For the first time in history, the Kingdom announced (on World Tourism Day) it is going to open its doors to tourists who want to visit for more than religious reasons.
This historic milestone has been taken to show that the Kingdom is moving forward and is committed to the implementation of Vision 2030 (Saudia Arabia’s plan to reduce their dependence on oil, diversify its economy, and develop public service sectors such as health, education, infrastructure, recreation and tourism).
WHO CAN VISIT?
Prior to this weekend, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, and the UAE were the only countries whose citizens were issued free travel to the Kingdom.
However, effectively immediately, tourists from the following 49 countries are now eligible for the Kingdom of Saudia Arabia (KSA) tourist visa. The countries include:
Austria, Andorra, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom
Brunei, China (Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan), Japan, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea
Australia, New Zealand
To apply for an e-visa, one must register at www.VisitSaudi.com and fill out an online application.
The e-visas are valid for one year, allow for multiple entries and tourists can spend up to 90 days in the country on each visit.
The entire e-visa, including mandatory medical insurance, will cost you 463.44SAR (~124.50 USD).
It’s also worth noting that women traveling “unaccompanied” will now also be able to access the country unlike in the past. Along with the announcement, KSA further issued a statement saying they will also ease restrictions on the dress codes for female tourists. It’s no longer mandatory for women visiting Saudi to wear abayas BUT must still dress modestly.
I appreciate the effort that any country takes to open their border. Similar to other middle eastern countries, the new regulations for tourist visas are in efforts to embrace tourism, reduce KSA’s dependency on oil and diversify its economy.
However, I do find it interesting that “eligibility” was not extended to one African country.
What are your thoughts about the new process? Do you plan to visit Saudia Arabia?