Saudi Arabia is making it easier for millions of tourists to enter the Kingdom by streamlining and relaxing its visa options for residents from multiple countries, effective September 1.
Residents from Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates —the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries— can now apply for electronic tourist visas (eVisas), according to the Ministry of Tourism of Saudi Arabia.
Residents of the UK, US, and EU can now apply for a visa on arrival. In addition, holders of a valid tourist or business visa to the UK, U.S. or the Schengen area countries will be able to apply for a visa on arrival, provided that the other visa has been used at least once to enter the issuing country.
Furthermore, potential visitors who meet Saudi Arabia’s visa requirements no longer have to report to their country’s embassy before entering Saudi Arabia.
“Through harnessing digital innovation and streamlining the traveller journey, Saudi Arabia is welcoming more and more visitors from all corners of the globe,” said Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al Khateeb.
The new visa rules is another step the Kingdom is taking toward achieving its ambitious goal of becoming a top global leisure destination. The Saudi government intends to invest $1 trillion in the tourism sector over the next 10 years.
“The facilitation of a tourist visa for millions of GCC residents and the visa on arrival extension supports our ambition to welcome 100 million visitors a year by 2030, to the world’s biggest new leisure tourism destination,” said Saudi Tourism Authority CEO Fahd Hamidaddin.
To achieve its ambitions, the Kingdom has been hard working to expanding its international air connectivity. Its goal is to increase the number of direct international flights from 99 to 250 and become a leading Middle Eastern aviation hub. To get there, Saudi Arabia has offered financial incentives to airlines, expanded existing airports, launched a new airline, invested millions and slashed airport fees.