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Tue 28 Jan 2020 08:22 AM

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Saudi issues 350,000 tourist visas in Q4 2019

British and Chinese top list of tourists visiting kingdom after relaxation of visa restrictions

Saudi issues 350,000 tourist visas in Q4 2019

Chairman of the Board of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, Ahmed Al Khatib.

Saudi Arabia issued 350,000 tourist visas in the fourth quarter of 2019, according to the chairman of the Board of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, Ahmed Al Khatib.

Al Khatib revealed the figure at the recent World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. And this is expected to increase further throughout 2020.

Video: Saudi Arabia's tourism chief said the kingdom is 'very safe'

Ahmad Al-Khatib, chairman of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage speaks with CNBC's Hadley Gamble in Davos at the World Economic Forum as he talks about Saudi Arabia opening its doors to more tourists.

In September last year Saudi opened its doors to tourists from 49 countries who were eligible for online e-visas or visas on arrival, including the United States, Australia, several European nations, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, China and Kazakhstan.

This was then extended to nationals of other countries holding a valid commercial or a tourist visa issued by the US, the UK or the European Union’s Schengen visa.

And earlier this month it was announced that holders of US, UK or Schengen visas can obtain a visa on arrival in the kingdom.

Anir Chatterji, Middle East immigration and employment leader at PwC Legal, told Arabian Business: “The general consensus is that these numbers will continue to grow and help to diversify the country’s economy.

“British tourists, followed by Chinese, were the top visitors of the 49 nationalities who were initially announced as eligible nationals to avail of a tourist visa to the Kingdom.

“The recent opening to US, UK or Schengen visa holders, will only help to positively further the country's Vision 2030 drive.”

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