The Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, in cooperation with the Ministries of Interior and Foreign Affairs, has completed the formulation of visa regulations and submitted them to the State for approval
RIYADH, April 1 (CIC) – The Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) has announced that the regulations for tourist visas have been completed and submitted to the State for approval.
“The Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, in cooperation with the Ministries of Interior and Foreign Affairs, has completed tourist visa regulations and submitted them to the State for approval,” SCTH said in a statement.
An SCTH official said an announcement from the Saudi government is expected soon.
Once the regulations are approved, the issuance of tourist visas is expected to have a major impact on the Kingdom’s nascent tourism industry.
SCTH said in a statement that the regulations, under which tourist visas will be issued, were reviewed in a series of meetings and workshops with relevant government institutions. Beyond the governmental review, investors, tourism and transport workers, and groups of beneficiaries and service providers were also given a chance to comment.
SCTH said that it has worked with various state institutions to prepare all arrangements related to the new visas. An integrated electronic system to process and record visa transactions has been developed, under the supervision of a specialized team headed by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology in conjunction with the commission and a number of related entities.
Meanwhile, the 11th edition of Saudi Travel and Tourism Investment Market (STTIM) opened on Sunday at Riyadh International Exhibition Centre in the capital. The event organised by SCTH runs until Wednesday. It brings together decision makers from more than 200 local and international government and nongovernment agencies, the private sector, as well as from the tourism industry to present and discuss key issues and developments for the sector.
SCTH has worked in accordance with the National Tourism Development Strategy, which was formulated by the State in 2004, to provide a comprehensive vision for the development of tourist visas which were granted to a limited number of individuals prior to the establishment of SCTH. Moreover, SCTH has worked with its partners to create a structure for developing tourism-related services, raise awareness of local communities, and develop the interpersonal skills of frontline tourist service providers.
“The National Transformation Programme 2020, has adopted the ‘tourist visa’ as one of the important initiatives with high economic feasibility, which will exert a direct influence on upgrading the quality of services, resolving the issue of seasonality, and controlling the prices of tourism-related services,” the statement said.
Prince Sultan bin Salman, president of SCTH, has stated previously that the Kingdom, as part of its campaign to attract tourists from abroad, is committed to promoting local values and cultural heritage. “The Kingdom, as the cradle of Islam, possesses an unparalleled cultural heritage, and is growing a tourism industry rich in natural, cultural and purely touristic destinations. On top of that, the Saudi people have a long tradition of showing great generosity, hospitality and warm welcomes to people from around the world.”
The tourism sector has been earmarked by the government as a key driver for growth in the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 plan to diversify the economy. Some 900,000 Saudis work in the travel and tourism sector. Last year alone, Saudi Arabia welcomed an estimated 18 million visitors, most of whom came to perform the Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages.
The Kingdom has some important archaeological and historic sites, including Madain Saleh in the northwest, built by the ancient Nabateans; and Diriyah, a small historic city about 20 kilometres from the capital, Riyadh. Both are UNESCO World Heritage sites. Other UNESCO sites are Al-Balad, or Historic Jeddah, and the Rock Art archaeological site in Hail region.
Saudi Arabia has also announced other major tourism projects as part of Vision 2030, including the Red Sea Project, a coastal lagoon covering some 50 untouched islands stretching along more than 150km of unpopulated coastline.