By Arab News
By Ruba Obaid
Women aged 25 and over can be granted a tourist visa to go to Saudi Arabia alone, a spokesman for the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) has said. However, women under 25 must be accompanied by a family member.
Omar Al-Mubarak, director general of the commission’s licensing department, said:
“The tourist visa will be a single-entry visa, and valid for 30 days maximum. This visa is added to those currently available in the Kingdom. It is independent of work, visit, Hajj and Umrah visas.”
The SCTH recently said that the start of tourism visa issuance would be announced during the first quarter of 2018.
“The executive regulations for tourist visas have been finalized. The commission’s IT department is currently building an electronic system for the issuance of tourist visas, coordinating with representatives of the National Information Center and the Foreign Ministry,” Al-Mubarak told Arab News.
During Saudi Arabia’s trial period of implementing the tourist visa system between 2008 and 2010, more than 32,000 tourists visited the Kingdom. Their visa procedures were facilitated by a number of tour operators licensed by the SCTH.
The Tourism Visa Initiative is meant to revive the previous tourist visa system to enable visitors to discover new destinations in the Kingdom, to boost the tourism sector and to develop tourism and heritage services and facilities in the Kingdom.
The aim is also to create more jobs for citizens and reduce the seasonal nature of international tourism with a religious basis during the Umrah and Hajj seasons.
The initiative is part of the National Transformation Program 2020, and falls within the framework of the commission’s efforts to achieve Vision 2030, which gives much attention to the tourism industry.