Middle East

Saudi expects to enhance inbound tourism with event visas

The Saudi cabinet has recently announced a new visa category to woo international tourists to the country. Introduction of the special ‘event’ visas is part of plans by the Kingdom to become a major global entertainment destination. Foreign tourists can now choose from the growing number of sporting, entertainment and business attractions available in the country.

As per the circular issued by the cabinet, announcing the new visa category, Embassies and consulates will be able to issue the visas within 24 hours of receiving a request.

Under the visa upgrade, the Kingdom’s General Investment Authority, General Sports Authority and General Entertainment Authority will provide the Foreign Affairs Ministry and state security with details of events at least two months beforehand. The details will then be included in the visa system.

The Kingdome has been seeking diversification of its economy and exploring new resources as part of a wide-ranging Vision 2030 program introduced by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

With the new visa plans, the authorities are hoping to increase the number of foreign visitors, as well as encourage domestic tourism and create jobs for young Saudis.

Formula E motor racing, WWE wrestling and world title boxing events have also been added to the country’s sporting calendar in the past 12 months.

Turki Al-Sheikh, chairman of the General Entertainment Authority, said earlier this year that infrastructure investments in the next decade would reach SR240 billion and would contribute SR18 billion to the country’s economy and generate 224,000 new jobs by 2030.