Saudi Arabia considers granting e-visas to Vietnamese tourists

By Phuong Anh   October 20, 2023 | 03:57 pm PT
Saudi Arabia considers granting e-visas to Vietnamese tourists
Tourists visit the cultural village of Rijal Almaa in Saudi Arabia, July 17, 2020. Photo by Reuters
Saudi Arabia is considering the issuance of e-visas to visitors from Vietnam as well as the possibility of bilateral visa exemptions as both countries seek to boost tourism.

Within the framework of Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh's visit to Saudi Arabia, Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Nguyen Van Hung held a bilateral meeting with Princess Haifa bint Mohammed Al-Saud who also serves as Deputy Minister of Tourism of Saudi Arabia on Thursday.

The princess said the Saudi Arabian government plans to issue electronic visas for tourists from Vietnam.

The Saudi Ministry of Tourism will work with domestic travel and tourism companies to develop tourism product packages that suit the tastes of Vietnamese tourists.

The princess hopes to soon establish a direct route between the two countries.

On Wednesday, Chinh agreed to consider starting direct flights between Vietnam and Saudi Arabia to boost tourism and economic ties.

Currently there are no direct flights between the two countries, and it takes 11 to 33 hours to fly from Hanoi or HCMC to Riyadh.

Deputy Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia Abdulaziz Al-Duaile said the relationship between the two countries was increasingly developing across many fields.

Saudi Arabia has sent Vietnamese authorities a draft visa exemption agreement for holders of diplomatic and official passports.

He said that, after being signed, the agreement will create favorable conditions for the two countries to offer bilateral visa exemption for tourists from both sides.

The number of Saudi Arabians visiting Vietnam remains modest at around 2,000 a year, most of them business visitors.

In 2019 only 600 Saudi tourists visited Vietnam, a small number considering more than 10 million travel abroad each year, according to Vietnam's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

As one of the largest countries in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia aims to attract more than 100 million tourists by 2030, making tourism the second largest source of revenue for the country after oil.

In September 2019, Saudi Arabia officially launched tourist visas. Four years after opening to international tourists, revenues from the tourism industry were $49.3 billion. Last year, Saudi Arabia welcomed more than 90 million international and domestic visitors.

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