Easing up the Visa rules | image

Millions of visas are issued each year for the purpose of Hajj and Umrah, visitation of the family, business tours etc, to the people belonging to the non-GCC countries. But there has never been a tourist visa issued to the travelers of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The pilgrims for Hajj and Umrah are restricted to stay within the three cities, Makkah, Medina and Jeddah. Recently, the vice-president for marketing and programs at SCTA, Abdullah S. Al-Jehani, has planned to implement the ‘Umrah Plus program’ by the end of this year in December. Having this visa the pilgrims will be allowed to visit other cities of Saudi Arabia apart from Makkah, Medina and Jeddah, after performing Umrah. This news could be exciting for the pilgrims who wish to explore other parts of the Kingdom within the Umrah visa.

On Tuesday, at the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) forum, the president of SCTA said: “Soon, we will announce new visa packages for the travelers to the kingdom.”

Al-Jehani further said that the Islamic tourism is not the only concern of the Kingdom. The business activities that surround exhibitions and antiquities would be focused more. International participants from all over the world get attracted to the trade exhibitions that are held in Riyadh each year. In the last 30 years, the Riyadh Exhibitions Company (REC) has assembled 330 shows in the domain of automotives and energy, food and beverages and all these exhibitions welcomed international guests from 40 countries.

The issuance of ‘Umrah plus program’ will increase growth in the tourism as well as the hospitality sector. In addition, the efforts being made by the kingdom to improve and develop the infrastructure of roads and the rail networks are to ease the pilgrims rush as well as to serve better the business visitors.

Furthermore, the up- gradation and the expansion of 35 Saudi Airports would increase their combined capacity to handle 82 million passengers. This shall be achieved by the year 2016.