Saudi Arabia plans to resume tourist visas by early 2021 after months of suspension amid strict government measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus, the kingdom's tourism minister told Reuters.
Al-Khateeb said the tourism sector has been hit hard and is expected to see a 35 percent - 45 percent decline by year end. The focus on domestic tourism during the summer has cushioned the blow, however.
“This pandemic is a systematic risk that has hit everyone; however, we have seen a very strong summer after the January-May lockup period,” Khateeb said.
“We have noticed a growth of 30 percent year on year in domestic tourism which is beyond our expectations.”
The Saudi Summer campaign, which promoted 10 tourist destinations - from beaches and forests to mountain peaks and historic areas - for citizens and residents to visit in lieu of holidaying abroad, helped boost average occupancy ratio at hotels to 80 percent.
Saudi Arabia has reported 332,790 COVID-19 cases and 4655 deaths so far. Infection rates have seen a steady decline over the past few weeks.