Saudi Arabia has opened itself up to tourism, offering tourist visas to 49 countries including the UK and relaxing rules for female visitors.
Until now, visas have generally only been approved for business people, expat workers or religious tourists.
The kingdom has also relaxed dress codes for female visitors, who will need to dress modestly but won’t be required to wear abaya robes required to be worn in public by Saudi women.
There will also be no restrictions on unaccompanied women visiting the country.
Visas allow a stay of up to three months per entry, with visitors able to spend up to 90 days a year in Saudi Arabia. The visa is valid for one year with multiple entries.
The destination has unveiled a phased tourism strategy which will see over 20 new tourist sites developed between now and 2022.
It will invest in the recruitment and training of tourism workers and will look to add new international routes to link with target countries.
“For the first time, we are opening our country to tourists from all over the world,” said His Excellency Ahmad Al-Khateeb, chairman of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Heritage, at a launch event in Riyadh.
“To those thinking of visiting Saudi Arabia, you won’t find a warmer welcome anywhere in the world and you won’t find a people prouder to share the riches of their land with you.
“Make no mistake, this is Vision 2030 in action. Under the leadership of his Majesty the King and His Royal Highness the Crown Prince, we are delivering; supercharging a non-oil sector that will drive growth and diversify our economy for decades to come.
“Saudi Arabia is opening. We are opening our economy. We are opening our society. Now we open our home and open our hearts to guests from around the world. Come, visit Saudi. And let us welcome you to Arabia.”
Applications for the visa can now be made at Saudi Embassies and Consulates across the world, online or on arrival into Saudi Arabia.
A dedicated online portal at visitsaudi.com has been launched and electronic kiosks are available at airports.
The cost of applying for an e-Visa or a visa on arrival is SAR 440 (just under £100) plus VAT.
Saudi Arabia intends to extend the e-Visa scheme to other countries in due course.
Places of interest include five UNESCO World Heritage Sites, 10,000 recorded sites of historical interest, the King Abdulaziz Centre for World Culture in Dhahran, sculpture parks, art galleries, fashion shows, literary events and the inaugural Red Sea International Film Festival in March 2020.