From August 1, 2021, only fully vaccinated tourists can enter Saudi Arabia without needing to enter an institutional quarantine provided if they present vaccination certificates upon arrival and proof of negative PCR tests conducted within 72 hours from the time of departure.
In a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency late Thursday, the Ministry of Tourism announced that the Kingdom will open its doors to tourists and lift the suspension of entry for tourist visa holders, starting from August 1 (Sunday).
According to the statement, fully vaccinated are those who have received two doses of a vaccine that is approved in Saudi Arabia, which is Pfizer, AstraZeneca or Moderna, or one dose of Johnson & Johnson. Meanwhile, those who have taken two doses of the Sinopharm or Sinovac vaccines will also be allowed if they have received an additional dose of one of the four above-mentioned vaccines. Meaning, anyone who got vaccinated with Sinopharm or Sinovac will have to have one shot of Pfizer, AstraZeneca or Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The announcement did not say if those who were vaccinated with Russian made Sputnik V vaccines would be allowed to enter the country.
Visitors to the Kingdom are also required to register their data related to their vaccination doses on the new dedicated electronic portal, while their data is also recorded through the “Tawakkalna” application, and must be shown to enter public places.
All visitors will be asked to observe all precautionary measures approved by the Ministry of Health, which include wearing a face mask in public and maintaining physical distancing.
In the statement, the ministry said that those wishing to obtain a tourist visa can apply through the visitsaudi.com website.
Speaking on this occasion, 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 hiatus due to the repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic.”
He added: “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 treasures, important destinations and landmarks, enjoy unique tourist experiences, and learn about the culture of generosity and hospitality that characterizes Saudi society.”
The Kingdom launched the tourist visa program in September 2019 in a historic decision, opening its heart and doors for tourists from different countries of the world. The program achieved remarkable success as 400,000 visas were issued within 6 months before the suspension of international travel due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
The announcement of the travel resumption for tourists coincides with the launch of the 2021 summer seasonal campaign, which is bringing a wealth of new attractions and events to the country. The new campaign is expected to tap into significant latent demand among the domestic and regional population, especially for larger-scale entertainment events, which have been significantly affected by measures to control the spread of coronavirus.
Despite the pandemic, the year 2020 was a breakout year for Saudi’s domestic tourism industry as citizens and residents explored the country — many for the first time — enabling the continued development of activities and new products ahead of the international reopening.
The 2020 Saudi Summer campaign, which ran between June and September, generated a 33 percent increase in spending on hotels, restaurants, and recreation and cultural activities compared to the same period in 2019. Average hotel occupancy was at nearly 50 percent, with peak occupancy for some destinations at almost 100 percent.
Saudi Arabia also introduced the country’s first-ever leisure cruise offering along the Red Sea on the Silver Spirit cruise ship, in September 2020. Cruise is being offered once again as part of the Summer season, with the MSC Belissima operating out of Jeddah between July and September.
Saudi Arabia is successfully carrying out the Kingdom-wide COVID-19 vaccination campaign for all citizens and residents, with more than 26 million doses administered so far. More than half of all Saudi citizens and residents have now received their first shot and one in five have received two doses of the vaccine.
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