The Saudi authorities have defined the rules of entry for holders of valid visas granted by one of the Schengen Member countries, the United Kingdom or the United States after they first announced in October last year that holders of these visas will soon be eligible to enter Saudi Arabia under tourism purposes without pre-entry visas.
The General Authority for Tourism & National Heritage has announced at the beginning of this year that tourists of all nationalities can enter Saudi Arabia by getting a tourist visa-on-arrival at its national airports, given that they hold a valid visa issued by the Schengen Members, UK or the US.
Yet, the General Authority has explained that these visas must have been used by their holders at least once, in order to be permitted to travel to Saudi Arabia.
The Authority has also instructed air transport companies – Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia), Flynas, FlyADeal, and SaudiGulf Airlines – to allow holders of these visas meeting the condition of visa validity and usage, to travel to Saudi Arabia, as they will be eligible to get an entry visa upon arrival.
Saudi Arabia started granting tourists with visas at the end of September last year, for the first time in its history, opening its doors to curious explorers, adventurers, and vacationers.
The visa scheme was launched in a bid of the Saudi Kingdom to boost tourism and increase the income from this industry. Up until recently, visas were available only for resident workers, business travelers, and Muslim pilgrims.
Yet, Saudi Arabia had launched its first tourist visas in December 2018, for the Formula-E race, held in Riyadh. The success of this temporary visa scheme pushed the authorities to create a new tourist visa scheme, as a part of its Vision 2030 plan.
The plan, among others, foresees the increase of the total tourism spending in the Kingdom, — by local citizens as well as foreigners — to $46.6 billion in 2020. In 2015, the spending was $27.9 billion.
Currently, citizens from 49 countries are eligible to apply for an e-Visa online or get a visa on arrival to Saudi Arabia. The application for a tourist eVisa for Saudi Arabia costs SAR 440 or about EUR 107. It is valid for one year, starting from the date of issuance, while the eVisa holder is permitted to stay in KSA for a maximum of 180 days.
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