KSA to relax visas to attract foreign tourists

Authorities in Saudi Arabia will from next month relax visa restrictions in order to attract more overseas visitors to the kingdom’s tourist and historical sites.

From December 4, Saudi will launch its ‘Extended Umrah Tourism Programme’, which will allow foreign nationals travelling to the country for Islamic pilgrimage to stay for a longer period.

Prince Sultan bin Salman, head of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA), said that passport holders of 65 countries were eligible for the scheme, Saudi Gazette reported. He did not specify which countries were applicable, but it is understood that the extended visa will last 30 days. “The Umrah visa will be converted into a tourist visa after its expiry,” he commented.

Saudi Arabia does not currently issue tourist visas to visitors from any country, although GCC nationals are given visa-free entry.