Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 3 July 2020

CORONAVIRUS

Saudi Arabia extends tourist visas for three months

Extensions will be free and automatically applied so that travellers do not need to visit government centres

Travellers in Saudi Arabia will have tourist visas automatically extended for three months with no additional fees. Pictured here is a shipwreck on the Gulf of Aqabah that is a tourist attraction. Photo: Reem Mohammed/The National
Travellers in Saudi Arabia will have tourist visas automatically extended for three months with no additional fees. Pictured here is a shipwreck on the Gulf of Aqabah that is a tourist attraction. Photo: Reem Mohammed/The National

Travellers in Saudi Arabia will have their tourist visas automatically extended by the Passports General Directorate in the kingdom.

All tourist visas for travellers in Saudi Arabia will now be extended for three months, free of charge, the Saudi Press Agency said.

Saudi Arabia suspended all flights in and out of the kingdom in March as part of an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus via air travel. This meant tourists in the country could not leave unless they managed to get on a repatriation flight. However, many, including those who live in places that have also closed their borders, have overstayed the dates on their original tourism visas.

The visa extension will be done automatically, meaning tourists do not need to apply for it or travel to any government office to be given it. The extension will be done via the system of the General Directorate of Passports.

Easing restrictions in Saudi Arabia

Domestic flights are set to resume in Saudi Arabia this month but international flights for tourists are still suspended. The kingdom will extend tourism visas free of charge for three months. Francis Malasig / EPA
Domestic flights are set to resume in Saudi Arabia this month, but international flights for tourists are still suspended. Francis Malasig / EPA

The visa news comes as Saudi Arabia has started to ease restrictions on movement and travel that were put in place amid the spread of the coronavirus.

Restrictions are being lifted in three phases, culminating in the curfew ending on Sunday, June 21, across the country, except in the holy city of Makkah.

As part of the first phase, domestic flights are set to begin flying from Sunday, May 31, but international passenger flights, other than repatriation services, remain suspended.

While Saudi Arabia has always been a highly visited destination because of religious tourism, it opened for general tourism for the first time in decades in September last year.

The kingdom launched tourist visas for people from 49 countries and relaxed its dress code for women.

Updated: May 27, 2020 11:10 AM

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