The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will reopen its doors to fully vaccinated tourists and visa holders from August 1 after a 17-month hiatus, stated the Saudi Ministry of Tourism in a press release issued by the Saudi Press Agency on Friday, July 30.
Tourists who have received two doses of Saudi approved vaccines can enter the country without undergoing the institutional quarantine period. Vaccines approved by Saudi for entry are Pfizer, AstraZeneca/Moderna, or a single dose of Johnson & Johnson. Tourists are required to provide their official vaccination certificate upon arrival, along with a negative RT-PCR test taken within 72 hours before departure.
Additionally, visitors have to register their data on the dedicated electronic portal Muqeem, as well as on the 'Tawakkalna' app. The statement also noted that people can apply for a tourist visa through the government's 'Spirit of Saudi' initiative, found on the visitsaudi.com website.
Saudi Arabia had opened up its borders for tourism in September 2019 in a bid to diversify its revenue sources, and issued over 400,000 tourist visas before the Covid-19 pandemic forced the country to close its borders and suspend travel.
Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khateeb said: "We welcome tourists again, and we are very happy to receive the Kingdom's guests again after a pause due to the repercussions of the Coronavirus pandemic. We focused our efforts during the pause on close cooperation with our partners in all sectors to ensure a safe return through which visitors to the Kingdom can enjoy exploring its tourist treasures, important destinations and landmarks, enjoy unique tourist experiences and learn about the culture of generosity and hospitality characterizing Saudi society."
However, no notice was given on the resumption of Umrah, an Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca that takes place throughout the year. Restrictions had been placed on both Umrah and Hajj pilgrimage in light of the pandemic, and are yet to be reopened for pilgrims outside the Kingdom.
AFP noted that the pilgrimages are a key revenue generator for the Kingdom, raking in a reported 12 billion dollars per year pre-Covid.