Saudi Arabia will resume domestic tourism starting from June 21 after the Kingdom halted it for more than three months due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, the Minister of Tourism Ahmed al-Khateeb said on Wednesday.
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The ministry had launched a study to examine whether Saudi Arabian citizens want tourism within the country to reopen, he added.
“It was revealed in a research study carried out by the Tourism Authority that 80 percent of Saudi citizens want to take advantage of domestic tourism. We will launch the domestic tourism program for the public after having made necessary coordination with the Ministry of Health and the concerned higher authorities,” al-Khateeb said.
The minister said that relaunching domestic tourism would help reduce COVID-19’s negative impact on the tourism sector, adding that the stimulus package offered by the country’s government had already helped ease the pressure.
“Saudi Arabia has initiated a package of financial stimulus activities with a total value of more than $61 billion to protect jobs and businesses and reduce the economic burden of the crisis. The domestic tourism sector has benefited from it as one of the important economic sectors, as it covered 60 percent of salaries of Saudi employees in the private sector for a period of three months, al-Khateeb said.
Return to normalcy
A return to normalcy does not mean that the coronavirus pandemic is over, health ministry spokesman Mohammed al-Abd al-Ali had said on Thursday.
“The virus is still there, the virus is active, the pandemic is still there, and there is still no vaccine. Research is ongoing, and we are hopeful. Treatment protocols are constantly being updated,” he said.
“A return to normalcy is now possible, but must be done with caution,” al-Abd al-Ali added.
Saudi Arabia has so far reported 145,991 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus.