Saudi Tourism
Rijal Almaa

Riyadh: Around 24,000 foreigners visited Saudi Arabia since a new tourist visa system went into effect in the kingdom on September 27, Saudi media reported on Tuesday.

Visitors from China have topped the list with 7,391, followed by citizens of the UK and the US with 6,159 and 2,132 respectively, according to figures released by the Saudi Foreign Ministry.

The top list also features visitors from Canada, Malaysia, France, Germany, Russia, Australia and Kazakhstan.

Last month, Saudi Arabia launched the new visa scheme aimed at attracting foreign holidaymakers to the kingdom as part of a plan to diversify its economy.

The instant tourist visa is obtained online or upon arrival at the Saudi airports.

It allows Muslim visitors to perform the Umrah pilgrimage and does not require a sponsor unlike the work visa.

Foreigners obtaining the tourist visa can visit the kingdom multiple times within a one- year period with a maximum 90 days per visit.

Saudi Arabia envisages 100 million visitors annually by 2030 against 41 million at present.