DAMMAM: Tourists may soon be welcomed in Saudi Arabia as the government plans to begin issuing tourist visas for the country, a report said. The decision comes as Saudi Arabia hopes to receive 1.5 million tourists a year by 2020.
The initial stage will see visas rolled out only for groups of visitors through authorized tour operators.
To support the initiative, the Public Investment Fund (PIF) would help to promote tourism in Saudi Arabia, adding that tourism projects “will further diversify job opportunities” in the kingdom, the report said.
Rustam Al-Kubaisi, head of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage’s (SCTH) Jizan branch, cited the Asir development project, the annual Souk Okaz in Ta’if, and the Farasan Islands as examples of tourism initiatives in the Kingdom, as well as museums and archaeological sites.
“The SCTH has been conducting tourism training workshops for the youth on topics including establishing small tourism projects and methods for increasing safety in tourism establishments,” he said. “This is in addition to raising awareness about the importance of relics, urban heritage and historical buildings.”
Apart from the initiative, travel to the kingdom remains restricted, with visas only granted to pilgrims, business people with a local sponsor and family members of residents.