RIYADH, Sept 27 (KUNA) — The Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) launched on Friday an e-visa program aiming to ease the restrictions on tourists and open the door for visitors from 49 countries.
The move targets increasing the revenues of tourism from the current SAR 115 billion (USD 30 billion), SCTH Board Chairman Ahmad bin Aqil Al Khatib said at a ceremony to mark the World Tourism Day.
The ceremony, hosted by SCTH, gathered Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization (WTO) Zurab Pololikashvili and CEO of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) Gloria Guevara.
“I’ve the pleasure to announce at this historic moment that the Kingdom opens its doors to the world and welcomes visitors who would like to see the hospitable people, rich civilization and scenic beauty of the Kingdom,” Al Khatib said.
He noted that the move would also encourage investors to tap into the highly promising investment opportunities in the tourist sector in keeping with the Kingdom’s vision 2030.
The fact that the Kingdom was able to attract USD 30 billion in tourist revenues so far signals the strength of the Saudi investment market, he said, adding that there are more than 10,000 archaeological sites besides the scenic ones that provide promising opportunities for investors.
Meanwhile, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported that the e-visa program would allow nationals of 49 countries to visit the Kingdom.
The national tourist strategy, set forth in vision 2030 targets increasing the number of tourists visiting the Kingdom from the current 41 million to 100 million.
It also targets increasing the percentage of tourist revenue in the GDP from three percent at present to 10 percent and the workforce in the tourist sector from 600,000 to 1.6 million by 2030, according to the SPA report.