Women aged 25 and older will soon be able to visit Saudi Arabia without being required to have a chaperone, according to the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage.
While women under 25 must still be accompanied by a family member, women of the requisite age will be able to apply for a lone-traveller tourist visa.
Quote in local media outlet, Arab News, director general of the commission’s licensing department Omar Al Mubarak said: “The tourist visa will be a single-entry visa and valid for 30 days maximum. This visa is added to those currently available in the kingdom. It is independent of work, visit, Hajj and Umrah visas.”
Currently women must travel to the kingdom with – or be met upon arrival with – a sponsor or male relative.
No specific date has yet been given for the launch of the new visa, though the SCTH recently said that start of tourism visa issuance would be announced during the first quarter of 2018.
“The executive regulations for tourist visas have been finalised. The commission’s IT department is currently building an electronic system for the issuance of tourist visas, coordinating with representatives of the National Information Centre and the Foreign Ministry,” Al Mubarak is quoted as saying.
In October last year the government approved plans to start issuing tourist visas for the country in a bid to boost the tourism sector, develop tourism and heritage services and attractions, and reduce the seasonal nature of international tourism, with tourists overwhelmingly visiting for Hajj and Umrah.
Speaking at the time, Shoura Council member Jamal Al Fakhri said that the Public Investment Fund would help to promote tourism in Saudi Arabia, and that tourism project would “further diversify job opportunities”.