Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Saudi Arabia 'ready to welcome tourists'

Saudi Arabia is ready to welcome its first tourists as the government has sanctioned a Jeddah travel agency in category D to issue visas for tourists and for educational or medical treatment purposes inside and outside the kingdom, a report said.

Visas were previously restricted to to pilgrims, business people with a local sponsor and family members of residents.

Now all four categories of licensed travel agencies in Jeddah (A, B, C and D) can provide a variety of services including the sale, purchase and issuance of travel tickets inside and outside the kingdom, marketing tourist trips provided by the tour organisers and handling tourist and educational visas, said a report in Arab News citin an article in Sabq online newspaper.

The decision comes as the kingdom hopes to steer the economy away from its oil dependence and welcome 1.5 million tourists a year by 2020.

"Saudi Arabia holds tremendous tourist potential due its favorable temperature, historical and cultural heritage, natural beauty and rich marine life," said Nikola Kosutic, senior research manager at Euromonitor.

The new initiative has also encouraged the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) to undertake a restoration programme under which a number of historic mosques across the country will be revived.

Other tourism initiatives include the Asir development project, the annual Souk Okaz in Ta’if, and the Farasan Islands, as well as museums and archaeological sites. - TradeArabia News Service

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