The Kingdom seeks to support the tourism sector to raise its contribution to the gross domestic product to 10%.
The Saudi Minister of Tourism, Ahmed Al-Khatib, said during an interview with Reuters: “With regard to the issue of tourist visas, we are now talking about early next year, and if things improve or any positive developments occur regarding the availability of an effective drug to eliminate the Corona virus, then we may speed up and get it in early time”.
Saudi Arabia opened its doors to foreign tourists in September 2019, by launching a new visa system for 49 countries, and the Kingdom plans to support the tourism sector so that the sector’s contribution reaches 10% of GDP by 2030.
This comes in light of the kingdom’s vision to diversify the economy’s pillars so that it is less dependent on the oil sector.
Al-Khatib said, “The tourism sector has been severely affected and is expected to witness a decline of between 35% to 45% by the end of the year. However, the focus on domestic tourism during the summer has softened the blow.”
The kingdom closed its borders to foreign pilgrims and tourists from at least 25 countries in late February. In March, it banned all travel in and out of the country.
Although foreign tourism and Hajj trips were halted during the closure period, Al-Khatib stated, “We witnessed a very strong summer after the closure period from January to May.” “We have seen domestic tourism grow by 30% year on year which exceeds our expectations.”
The Saudi Summer Campaign promoted ten tourist destinations – from beaches and forests to mountain tops and historical regions – for citizens and residents to visit rather than spend their vacation abroad, and helped raise the average hotel occupancy rate to 80%.
On Monday, the Saudi Tourism Development Fund signed a cooperation agreement with Riyadh Bank and Banque Saudi Fransi, to finance tourism projects amounting to 160 billion riyals in Saudi Arabia, about “42.7 billion dollars.”
This agreement constitutes an essential step towards supporting and developing tourism projects in Saudi Arabia.
The agreement provides for the establishment of financing programs to support and develop the tourism sector with a value of up to 160 billion riyals. This agreement aims to activate the programs agreed upon with both Riyadh Bank and Banque Saudi Fransi.
This agreement includes defining ways of cooperation between the fund and the participating banks by setting up mechanisms to support financing tourism projects in various regions of Saudi Arabia, which is part of the fund’s efforts to encourage and stimulate investments in the tourism sector and support the private sector.
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