Just because it’s now open does not necessarily mean there will be a deluge of tourists making a beeline for Saudi Arabia under a new tourist visa.

For Umrah pilgrims, it does indeed make sense to be a tourist after they’ve performed the “mini” Hajj. This is a big development for the massive Muslim travel market in Asia and elsewhere, as we reported below.

But it will be interesting to see whether non-Muslims will open their hearts to the kingdom. Each time Saudi Arabia loosens its restrictions — allowing non-married couples to book hotel rooms; approving that foreign women don’t have to wear the flowing abaya cloak; letting Saudi women travel without male permission — the world is reminded of its authoritarian, repressive, and oppressive rule.

Tourists don’t book and embark on trips in a political vacuum, as Skift’s Global Tourism Reporter Rosie Spinks wrote recently.

So while it’s understandable that businesses are excited about a new frontier, they should temper that optimism with a good dose of reality.

Just ask Myanmar, which has been shamed for the Rohingya crisis by tourists simply by their refusal to visit.

— Raini Hamdi, Skift Asia Editor, rh@skift.com, @RainiHamdi

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InterContinental Al Jubail, one of 39 properties IHG has in operation in Saudi Arabia. Photo: InterContinental Hotels Group

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Asia Editor Raini Hamdi [rh@skift.com] curates the Skift Asia Weekly newsletter. Skift emails the newsletter every Wednesday.

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Photo Credit: Red Sea waters off the town of Umluj in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia introduced a tourist visa Sept. 28 that will help expand its Muslim travel market. Vivian Nereim / Bloomberg