Saudi Arabia is making a concerted effort to increase tourism to its shores. Visitors to the largest state on the Arabian Peninsula are projected to increase by 38% before 2024.
In September 2019, Saudi Arabia opened its doors to 49 countries by allowing their citizens to apply online for a Saudi Arabia eVisa or obtain a visa on arrival. Before this time, the majority of travelers required a consular visa to visit Saudi Arabia. This move will make it much easier to travel to the country.
Saudi Arabia is planning to further increase tourism by attracting residents of fellow Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states to take mini-breaks to Saudi cities and resorts.
With a number of initiatives geared towards making itself a leading tourist destination as part of its Saudi Vision 2030 campaign, Saudi Arabia’s tourist industry looks set to keep expanding.
What Is Tourism Like in Saudi Arabia?
Until recently, the tourism industry in Saudi Arabia has been dominated by religious visits. Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of Islam and is home to 2 of the religion’s holiest sites: the cities of Mecca and Medina.
Millions of Muslims undertake the Hajj each year. Every Muslim must complete this pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in their lifetime if physically and financially able. Many also travel to Mecca at other times of the year as an Umrah pilgrimage.
However, Saudi Arabia is keen to become more than only a religious destination for the global Muslim community.
As part of the kingdom’s Saudi Vision 2030 campaign to reduce its dependence on oil, the tourism industry has received billions of dollars of funding to attract more visitors.
This has led to the introduction of the Saudi Arabia eVisa.
What Is Saudi Vision 2030?
Saudi Vision 2030 is a project designed to diversify the nation’s economy and reduce its reliance on the oil industry.
First announced in 2016, the campaign has involved heavy investment in health, education, recreation, and tourism. Around 80 major projects are scheduled to be completed by the year 2030.
In terms of boosting the tourism industry, Saudi Arabia has started a number of initiatives, including introducing a new eVisa to make it easier for citizens of 49 countries to visit the sovereign state.
Easier Entry to Saudi Arabia With the eVisa
The Saudi Arabia eVisa was launched in September 2019 and has led to a rise in international interest in visiting the country.
The simplified online application process means that travelers from the 49 eligible countries do not have to go to a Saudi embassy to obtain a consular visa. The Saudi eVisa application form can be completed from the comfort of the applicant’s own home or office.
See if you are eligible by checking the requirements for the Saudi Arabia eVisa.
Why Visit Saudi Arabia?
Saudi Arabia is keen to promote the many things it has to offer travelers.
It has a number of fascinating cities, from the capital Riyadh to the bustling Red Sea port of Jeddah.
Saudi Arabia is a diverse country with a variety of different landscapes. Visitors can explore the desert by camel, climb the Asir Mountains, where the landscape can be lush and green and juniper forests grow, and discover ancient Nabataean ruins reminiscent of Jordan’s Petra.
Increasing Tourism in Saudi Arabia?
The Saudi Vision 2030 project aims to reduce the country’s dependence on oil and diversify the economy, putting more focus on tourism.
Tourism is expected to increase thanks to the availability of eVisas for nationals of so many countries.
It is also hoped that there will be an increase in travelers from other GCC member states. Saudi Arabia is looking to attract more visitors from the likes of Qatar, Bahrain, and the UAE for short city breaks or mini-breaks in its many desirable destinations.
Increasing the Number of Hotels in Saudi Arabia
Since the Saudi Arabia eVisa enables easy access to the country for many travelers and tourism numbers are rising, the worldwide hotel industry is taking an interest in the kingdom.
Various international and regional hotel chains, such as Hyatt Hotels Corporation, are planning to expand their number of properties in Saudi Arabia.
By 2025 it is estimated that there will be over 79,000 more hotel rooms available across Saudi Arabia, with over 34,000 in Mecca alone, around 14,500 planned in Jeddah, and over 11,000 in Riyadh (according to the latest data from STR).
Future Plans for Saudi Vision 2030
As part of Saudi Vision 2030, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is planning a number of projects in the tourism and entertainment sectors to increase the number of annual visitors.
Before the year 2030, Saudi Arabia plans to build:
- Two luxury Red Sea beach resorts (Red Sea Project)
- A new racing circuit for Formula 1 racing in Qiddiya
- A Six Flags theme park (due to open 2022)
- Various new movie theaters
In addition, numerous sports and entertainment events have been organized.
The first live music concert open to the public in over 25 years was held in Riyadh in May 2017, while in 2018, American professional wrestling organization WWE began a partnership that has seen prominent wrestling matches held in the country—including women’s wrestling.
Further music and sporting events (including WWE Super ShowDown 2020) are planned for the future as Saudi Arabia continues to roll out its Saudi Vision 2030 campaign.