Published on : Wednesday, November 1, 2017
Initially visas would only be available to tour groups travelling with government-licensed operators. The current system only allows visas for two weeks for business, pilgrims or travellers with family in the country and they are expensive and very difficult to get.
The country would even relax its strict religious laws in certain areas for attracting tourism. A new resort called the Red Sea Project is also in the pipeline. Currently, the country gets approximately 200,000 tourists a year – excluding pilgrims – and hopes to increase this to 1.5 million a year by 2020.
With the increase of green energy and decrease in the cost of oil, the country is willing to open up to new revenues.
Stringent social laws would also be relaxed. From next year, women will be allowed to drive and also enter some sports stadiums. Prince Mohammed has promised the country will return “to what we were before – a country of moderate Islam that is open to all religions, traditions and people around the globe.”