Saudi Arabia plans to soon reopen to foreign tourists, a senior tourism official said on Monday after the kingdom announced the lifting of quarantine restrictions for certain foreign arrivals. The kingdom announced late on Sunday that non-citizens arriving from certain countries and who were fully vaccinated against or recently recovered from COVID-19 would no longer be required to quarantine in designated government hotels.
Travel between Saudi Arabia and Bahrain via the King Fahd Causeway reopened today, following over a year of closure due to COVID-19 safety precautions. Additionally, 10 more lanes were added to the departure area, for a total of 27 lanes –and 36 arrival lanes. pic.twitter.com/3ZzJ3fswX7— About Her (@AboutHerOFCL) May 16, 2021
Those new measures, however, only apply to residents, government and business travellers or those visiting friends and family but not foreign tourists, according to the Saudi Tourism Authority (STA).
Some high-risk countries remain restricted for both direct or indirect travel from Saudi Arabia.https://t.co/L8fXXWNZWU— About Her (@AboutHerOFCL) May 17, 2021
STA Chief Executive Fahd Hamidaddin told Reuters the kingdom would reopen to foreign tourists this year with an announcement expected to be made "very soon."
#GoodToKnow: There are over 100 Ministry of Health accredited laboratories across Saudi Arabia that can provide travelers with pre-travel PCR tests as international flights kick off once again. pic.twitter.com/ff5Hkf81Bp— About Her (@AboutHerOFCL) May 17, 2021
Saudi Arabia liberalised its tourism industry in 2019, making it easier for foreigners to apply for tourist visas to the kingdom that had been relatively closed off for decades.
Hamidaddin said the kingdom was still targeting 100 million annual visits by 2030, up from about 40 million a year before the pandemic. It was also still targeting for tourism to account for 10% of GDP, up from 3%, by 2030, he said.