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A view of King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. According to the new regulations, holders of a tourist or business visa from the UK, US, or a Schengen visa from the EU countries can also obtain a visa on arrival at Saudi Arabia. Image Credit: GN Archives

Cairo: The number of arrivals in GCC residents in Saudi Arabia has increased by 18 per cent after the kingdom earlier this week announced expanding its rules for acquiring a tourist visa including residents in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, a Saudi official has said.

Earlier this month, Saudi Arabia has announced amendments to obtaining a tourist visa, allowing residents in the GCC countries to apply for a eVisa.

According to the new regulations, holders of a tourist or business visa from the UK, US, or a Schengen visa from the EU countries can also obtain a visa on arrival at Saudi Arabia.

The decision has generated a swift positive impact, according to Abdullah Khuja, the manager of foreign liaison at the airport app.

“Since the Ministry of Tourism issued its decree on the [tourist] visa, the number of arrivals from Gulf residents has increased by 18 per cent in two days,” he told Saudi television Al Ekhbariya TV. “Now there are tourists [in Saudi Arabia] throughout the year,” he added.

“The decree has ensured continuity in income increase around the year and stability in the tourism sector. The decree will positively affect all sectors such as restaurants and shops,” he said.

The Saudi Ministry of Tourism has said that holders of a residency visa in GCC countries can apply for an electronic entry visa. The applicant’s residency visa must be valid for at least three months.

As part of its efforts to open up to the world and boost its tourism industry, Saudi Arabia unveiled in 2019 a new tourist visa scheme aimed at attracting foreign holidaymakers. The instant tourist visa is obtained online, or upon arrival at the Saudi airports.