Prince Sultan bin Salman has said that the country would ease tourist visa rules, but that “it will not be totally open for everybody to just show up and come in,” according to AP.
The kingdom’s new plan to issue a number of tourist visas per year is part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, which was approved by the country’s cabinet on Monday.
At present, the country does not issue tourist visas but it did run a pilot programme between 2006 and 2010, allowing 25,000 tourist visas per year for visitors interested to see Saudi Arabia's ancient archaeological sites.
"It is open for people that are doing business, for people working in Saudi Arabia, investing in Saudi Arabia, and people who are visiting for special purposes. And now it will be open for tourism again on a selected basis," the prince told AP.
Since the country’s cities Mecca and Media attract millions of Muslims every year, the prince said allowing pilgrims to stay on as tourists and creating an industry to support that would show visitors that Saudi Arabia "is moving forward" and that Islam did not emerge in a land void of history.
"The issue is very important to us, that people come and find a country that is stable, that is secure... to show off, if you like, our country," he said.
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