Saudi Arabia government relaxed its visa regulations for Indians and also reduced visa fees but decided to continue to the same regulations and fees for Pakistan. The government brought down the 90-day visit visa fee from 2,000 Riyal to only 305 Riyal, an 84 percent reduction. Visa fees for 180 and 360 days visa have also been reduced. Pakistani passport holders will continue to pay Rs one to four lakh for the tourist visas. Saudi Gazette, the kingdom’s leading English daily newspaper, earlier denied the visa fee reduction claims but later confirmed the news themselves. Saudi Gazette took down the denial news link from its website, but the hard copy is still available on Facebook.
Etimad, a visa center in Pakistan also confirmed on May 1, 2018, that Saudi Arabian government reduced visa fees for Indian passport holders, while no such liberty was granted to Pakistanis. In 2017, Saudi Arabia government decided to promote Umrah, Hajj, and other business and corporate activities in the country. Last year when international oil prices dropped, the government decided to start tourism visa so that economic dependency on the oil industry. Saudi Arabia issued its first ever tourist visa in April 2018 and is also aiming to build more tourist destinations in the country. People who visit on tourist visa won’t be able to visit Hajj or Umrah, but all other religious places are open to them.
Building the tourism industry
In its latest budget, the government allocated 35 billion pounds on tourism over the next three years. Saudi Arabia aims at welcoming more than 30 million tourists annually by 2030. Rules for visiting the country are still very stringent compared to other Arab nations, but that expected commonly because Saudi Arabia has strong Islamic faith. It has some very pretty destinations, which were blocked out to the general public until now.