Published on : Monday, May 3, 2021
Even though the pandemic has compelled the travel sector to come to a temporary halt and slammed shut down to the international borders, in the Middle East, unprecedented changes are taking place that will make travelling around the region hassle-free, once the world get back to normal once again.
Easy visa requirements, shifting politics, and new transport connections assure to attract greater number of visitors to the Middle East, which had the fastest-growing rate of foreign tourist arrivals and double the global average before the pandemic hit the world, as per the United Nations’ World Tourism Organization.
Due to COVID and the piecemeal, country-by-country developments, this major transformation all over Middle East has got mostly overlooked.
For the casual travelers, Saudi Arabia was a tough place to visit for long time, however in September 2019, the country kick-started issuing tourist visas for the first time. Before, only Muslim pilgrims, resident workers and business travelers had the opportunity to enter Saudi Arabia. But now, for 440 Saudi riyals, tourists from 49 countries in North America, Europe and Asia can easily apply for a visa online or get one on arrival.
In the first 10 days after the launch of the tourist visa, Saudi state TV reported the country greeted roughly 24,000 visitors and by 2030, it has a target to bring in 100 million tourists every year.
Even though these developments in tourism appear to be happening at once, many have been in the progress for several years, particularly as Gulf countries begin actively moving their finances away from oil.
“Many Middle East and North African countries are putting tourism at the core of their strategic long-term vision,” said Siamak Seyfi, an assistant professor of tourism geography at the University of Oulu in Finland. “Countries in the region have all been aware of the huge importance of tourism as a driver for economic diversification.”
Tags: Middle East