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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - Riyadh: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Tourism on Tuesday announced that it has expanded access to its electronic tourist visa to nationals from six new countries, taking the toll to 63.
These countries are Turkiye, Thailand, Panama, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Seychelles and Mauritius.
Nationals of these countries can request the tourist visa either online or upon arrival at one of the Kingdom’s international airports.
Holders of the tourist visa can visit the Kingdom for tourism purposes or to perform Umrah outside the Hajj season. They can also visit their friends and relatives, and attend events, exhibitions and conferences.
The visitor e-visa is valid for an entire year, grants multiple entries and permits a stay of up to 90 days. Additionally, Visit Saudi offers an online trip planner for visitors to create custom itineraries with ease.
A visitor e-visa is also provided to holders of valid Schengen, UK and US visas that have been used to enter those countries before arriving in Saudi Arabia, and to permanent residents of EU and Gulf Cooperation Council countries, the UK and the US.
Saudi Arabia also grants the free 96-hour Stopover Visa, allowing passengers traveling via Saudia and Flynas to stay in the country for up to 96 hours before reaching their final destination.
This step comes as an extension of efforts aimed at supporting development and economic diversification to achieve the goals of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, which include raising the tourism sector’s contribution to the gross domestic product and providing 1 million job opportunities in the Saudi tourism sector.
The Ministry of Tourism launched the visitor e-visa in 2019 to present an opportunity for tourists and visitors from eligible countries to explore the Kingdom’s tourist destinations, participate in entertainment events, and learn about Saudi culture.
Since then, Saudi Arabia registered 94 million visits in 2022, a 93 percent increase compared to 2021, resulting in a tourism spend of SR185 billion ($49 billion).
According to the ministry, Saudi Arabia is well on track to achieving its goal of 100 million visits by 2030 — with new targets currently being set. The plan is for the tourism sector to contribute 10 percent to the GDP by 2030. Currently, travel and tourism account for 4.5 percent of Saudi Arabia’s GDP, marking an increase from 3 percent in 2019.
The ministry intends to continue expanding the number of countries and regions whose citizens may receive the visitor e-visa in tandem with the ongoing development of the tourism sector infrastructure in the Kingdom.
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