Saudi Arabia announced on July 30, 2021, that it will reopen its borders to fully vaccinated foreign tourists after a closure of 17 months due to the widespread COVID-19 pandemic.
Riyadh, however, did not announce any lifting of restrictions on the Umrah. It is a pilgrimage that can be undertaken anytime and usually attracts millions of Muslims from all over the world every year.
The Saudi Press Agency reported that the Ministry of Tourism has announced that the Kingdom will open its doors to foreign tourists, and will lift the suspension of entry for tourist visa holders from August 1, 2021.
The Kingdom once again welcomes vaccinated tourists visa holders
starting from 🗓 1 August 2021. pic.twitter.com/YOGwGgHLaN
— Foreign Ministry 🇸🇦 (@KSAmofaEN)
July 29, 2021
Foreign tourists travelling to Saudi Arabia: What are the conditions?
• The travellers who will be fully vaccinated with the Saudi approved jabs- AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Johnson &Johnson and Moderna- will be able to enter the kingdom.
• They will be able to enter the country without the need for an institutional quarantine period.
• However, the travellers must have proof of a negative PCR COVID-19 test which has to be taken within the last 72 hours and must register their details with the health authorities.
Tourism in Saudi Arabia: All you need to know
• Saudi Arabia has spent billions trying to build and develop a tourism industry from scratch, as part of the efforts to diversify its oil-reliant economy.
• The once-reclusive country started issuing tourists visas for the first time in 2019. It was a part of an ambitious push to draw visitors as well as revamp its global image.
• Between September 2019 and March 2020, the Kingdom had issued 4,00,000 visas- only for the covid-19 pandemic to crush that momentum as the borders were closed.
• The pandemic also hugely impacted the Umrah and Hajj pilgrimages which is usually a key revenue earner for Saudi. In normal times, they together rake in some $12 billion annually.
• However, currently only the immunized residents in the Kingdom are eligible for Umrah permits.
COVID-19 Vaccination in Saudi Arabia:
The Government of Saudi Arabia has accelerated the vaccination drive in the country as it moves to revive the tourism, entertainment extravaganzas and host sports. All are pandemic-hit sectors.
So far, 26 million doses have been administered to the population of 35 million. The Government has also said that from August 1, COVID vaccination will be mandatory to enter the Government and the private establishments, including the entertainment venues and education institutions, as well as to access public transport. The Kingdom registered more than 5,23,000 cases, with 8,213 deaths.