SAUDI ARABIA

400,000 tourist visas issued in 6 months, says SCTH chief

February 25, 2020
Ahmad Al-Khateeb, chairman of the board of directors of SCTH.
Ahmad Al-Khateeb, chairman of the board of directors of SCTH.



Saudi Gazette report

RIYADH —
The Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) has issued over 400,000 tourist visas since last September when the Kingdom launched the new tourism visa regime. This was announced by Ahmad Al-Khateeb, chairman of the board of directors of SCTH, at the first Municipal Investment Forum in Riyadh on Monday.

Al-Khateeb said the commission will soon announce a raft of new reforms with the aim of attracting investments in the tourism sector. “Around 40 percent of tourists come in search of better beaches while 30 percent go for historical sites. The Kingdom hosts the best beaches and around 10,000 historical sites,” he said lamenting the lack of sufficient infrastructure facilities.

Al-Khateeb said that international restaurants have started coming to Riyadh two years ago, while the Quality of Life Program works to upgrade the ranking of Saudi cities such as Riyadh and Jeddah in the index of the best cities to live in. “The Riyadh Season festival witnessed huge turnout. A part of the Vision 2030 lies in diversifying the economy and raising the contribution of the private sector to the gross domestic product (GDP) and developing the tourism sector.”

Al-Khateeb also elaborated the measures taken to attract tourists, such as launching of electronic tourist visa for 49 countries and the addition of 3 other countries in the first phase, and other reforms such as introduction of new airport taxi, and the launch of tour operator and travel agency services within two minutes. The commission is working on new licenses to facilitate investors after listening to their opinions.

The SCTH chief said that a comprehensive survey of all major tourist spots in the Kingdom has also been prepared to develop tourist destinations and take advantage of them in coordination with the competent authorities. “The private sector is the basis for tourism development and the development of the local tourism system. The commission is working with investors to fill the gaps in the local tourism market,” he added.


February 25, 2020
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