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Travel Spring Break in Saudi Arabia? The Kingdom Plans to Issue First Tourist Visas on April 1

20:15  12 march  2018
20:15  12 march  2018 Source:   cntraveler.com

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Spring Break in Saudi Arabia ? The Kingdom Plans to Issue First Tourist Visas on April 1 . It’ll be the first time Saudi Arabia issues visas specifically for tourism, though foreigners have been allowed to enter the country for religious, business, and so-called personal visits in the past.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is planning to issue its first official tourist visas this April, tour operators say, opening “We are accepting bookings onto our November and December departures and will have an update on April 1 .” So maybe spring break will have to wait until next year.

a view of a city © Getty

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is planning to issue its first official tourist visas this April, tour operators say, opening up the famously conservative country to non-Muslim visitors and those who want to see Jidda, Riyadh, and historic sites like the ancient city of Mada’in Saleh in the Arabian Desert. It’ll be the first time Saudi Arabia issues visas specifically for tourism, though foreigners have been allowed to enter the country for religious, business, and so-called personal visits in the past.

“We’ve heard so much about Saudi Arabia in regards to business, religion, and politics,” said Andrea Ross, U.S. Director at Wild Frontiers, in an email. “But as a traveler, getting to see beneath the news story and understand more about day-to-day life, the people of Saudi, and the amazing historical sites, is a huge driver” of interest in visiting the country, Ross said. Wild Frontiers, which specializes in travel to out-there destinations like Pakistan and the Caucasus, is planning its first visit to Saudi Arabia in November.

Saudi Arabia to launch tourist visas in early 2018

  Saudi Arabia to launch tourist visas in early 2018 Saudi Arabia will begin issuing tourist visas in the first quarter of 2018, its top tourism official said, a first for the kingdom as it undergoes major economic and social reforms. Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz told AFP that "all government approvals" are in place for the launch of electronic visas next year to "all nationals whose countries allow their citizens to visit" Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia plans to issue its first tourist visas in 2018, the prince said. Visas were previously restricted to people traveling to the country for work or to visit its holy sites. Attracting tourists is a central plank of the country's plan to reduce its reliance on oil.

Saudi Arabia issues tourist visas for the first time - including for lone women. SAUDI ARABIA to issue tourist visas from 1 st April 2018, as well as increased investment in the deeply conservation nation, in a bid to welcome 30 million tourists annually by 2030.

Even with the new tourist visas, you won’t be able to just pop over for a long weekend, said Rami Girgis of the tour company Abercrombie & Kent, which already takes visitors to Saudi Arabia under existing visa rules. “Some of the details are still sketchy but we now have an idea as to how they are planning to roll this out,” Girgis said in an email. “In order to qualify for a tourist visa, there needs to be a minimum of four guests traveling. Also, all visas will still need to be attested by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, [meaning] that you will still need to book through a registered tour operator in order to get the visa,” he said. The somewhat complicated process is, nevertheless, “an improvement and a step in the right direction,” Girgis said.

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Saudi Arabia Start issues tourist visas from April 2018 | Latest Saudi News By JUMBO TV - Продолжительность: 7:47 Jumbo TV 20 298 просмотров. Saudi Arabia plans to issue its first tourist visas this year!

Other than seeing one of the world’s most closed-off countries, what can you expect to see should you go? At the top of the list, Ross says, is “the Nabatean site of Mada’in Salah, featuring a number of spectacular rock-cut tombs similar in style to the Nabatean sites at Petra. And a visit to visit the Red Sea town of Jidda, where the only tourists will be Saudi families enjoying the sun and sea; the capital Riyadh; and the Sarawat Mountains, close to the border with Yemen. Here you see villages that feature brick stone towers used as residences. This unique form of architecture used to be a highlight of any trip to Yemen—and with Yemen now closed off, seeing these here is an incredible opportunity.”

There will be challenges on any visit. Women will be able to apply for tourist visas, but those under 25 years of age will need a “chaperone,” according to a report in the Jidda-based Arab News. “My understanding is that [women] can apply and visit," said Ross, "but will need to wear a headscarf and stay with the group." Non-Muslim travelers won't be able to visit Saudi Arabia’s most famous cities of Mecca and Medina, Girgis said. While the U.S. Department of State warns that “terrorist groups continue plotting possible attacks in Saudi Arabia,” the country’s Level 2 travel advisory puts it on par with France or the U.K. in terms of risk. (The U.K. Foreign & Commonwealth Office has lengthy warnings about travel to Saudi Arabia.) And those “whose passport contains evidence of previous travel to Israel may be refused admission,” according to a report in The Independent.

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New York [USA], Mar 13 (ANI): Saudi Arabia is planning to issue its first official tourist visas from April 1 , according to tour operators. The plan is a bid to allow non-Muslim tourists visit historic sites such as Jeddah, Riyadh and the ancient city of Mada'in Saleh in the Arabian Desert.

The prince said Saudi Arabia intends to issue its first tourist visas in 2018 as it tries to reduce its reliance on oil. As reported in CNN Money, Saudi Arabia is aiming for 30 million visitors a year by 2030 (a sharp rise from 2016 figures of 18 million)

Then there’s the possibility that the visas won’t actually start to flow come April 1; Saudi officials have been talking about opening the country to tourism since 2016. “We are cautiously optimistic,” Ross said. “We are accepting bookings onto our November and December departures and will have an update on April 1.” So maybe spring break will have to wait until next year.

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