Saudi Arabia is projected to be issuing around 10 million e-visas over Umrah season as one of Vision 2030’s key objectives. In a bid to boost the kingdom’s tourism sector, Saudi is expected to host around 1.5 million tourists by the start of 2020. A lot of the country’s current international visitor count is driven by religious tourism, and so Saudi’s visa accessibility has been made easier.
During 2019’s Hajj season, Saudi Arabia generated an e-tracking system for international visitors to the kingdom. Through this system, pilgrims could obtain an e-visa, book accommodation and transport services. With the success of the quick and easy e-visa integration system, Saudi Arabia is expected to welcome and host millions of Muslim pilgrims.
The Chief Planning and Strategy Officer at the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, Dr. Amr Al Maddah, announced that the government organization has plans to issue around 10 million e-visas in Umrah season, this year alone. In order to obtain a visa for Saudi Arabia, visitors will simply have to go online, as opposed to visiting an embassy.
Speaking to Arab News, Al Maddah stated that the kingdom is expected to issue around 30 million visas by 2030, "The ministry is well-prepared for these cumulative numbers, and pilgrims now have several e-booking platforms that continue to increase and are no longer limited to external agents.”
So how does one obtain an e-visa for Saudi Arabia? Firstly, those who are looking to attend Umrah will look at booking platforms of the likes of Booking.com, Holiday Inn, Maqaam, and Agoda, to search for the available packages for the time of visitation. Itineraries can also be customized to personal preference, and once selected, potential visitors will then go on to enter their personal and payment details, after which they will be issued a reference number which can finally be used to receive their e-visa instantly.
Between June and July, Saudi Arabia hosted a major music and culture festival, Jeddah Season, for which international attendees used the same booking process to obtain visas for the kingdom.