The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has issued about 47,000 tourist visas in the first month of the launch of the tourist visa program, announced the chairperson of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) Ahmad Al Khateeb at the G20 Tourism Ministers meeting in Japan.
Throughout the meeting, Al Khateeb said that while the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is excited to be opening its doors to the world as an emerging tourism destination, its authorities are aware that tourism is not only a driver of economic growth but also an important cultural bridge.
“We are also keenly aware of the responsibilities this entails. Over-development and uncontrolled planning can just as easily undermine the foundations of what makes a destination unique. For tourism to work for today and for tomorrow’s generations it has to be sustainable,” Al Khateeb said, while sharing Saudi Arabia’s plans and views for the future of tourism in the country.
As next year The Saudi Kingdom will be assuming the G20 presidency, Al Khateeb said that the country plans to place tourism among the main priorities in recognition of its significant contribution to the global economy, both socially and economically.
According to him, the strategy of the KSA is to grow tourism from 3% to 10% of the country’s GDP and to increase the number of visitors from 18 million to 100 million annually by 2030, which would then create 1 million new jobs, predominantly among the young.
“We are committed to working with our partners across the tourism ecosystem to achieve these goals while protecting the economic, environmental and social wellbeing of the local communities affected by tourism… Throughout next year’s presidency, we hope to further expand upon the legacy of previous G20s as we work together towards creating genuinely sustainable socio-economic development across the global tourism industry,” he concluded.
Saudi Arabia started granting tourist visas to the citizens of 51 world countries as of September 27, in a bid to develop the tourism sector. So far, Saudi Arabia has issued visas only to resident workers, business travelers, and Muslim pilgrims. The latter are given special visas to travel to holy sites.
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