The Saudi Arabian government has lifted all COVID-related entry restrictions for holders of tourism visas, making the destination one of the most accessible to travelers in the world.
Effective immediately, visitors to Saudi will no longer need to present proof of vaccination or a PCR test to enter the country. Institutional quarantine requirements will be entirely removed, and all travelers from the countries currently red-listed will be allowed entry. Social distancing rules will be lifted across the country, including Makkah and Madinah, and masks will be required in enclosed public places only.
This lifting of restrictions on leisure, business and religious visitors marks the most comprehensive update to travel regulations since Saudi first opened to international travelers in September 2019.
“We welcome this decision by the central government, which protects both lives and livelihoods while welcoming travelers back to Saudi,” said Ahmed Al Khateeb, Minister of Tourism for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. “The return to pre-pandemic levels of openness was made possible by our country’s ambitious vaccination program and other successful efforts to minimize the spread of the virus. By reducing costs and inconveniences for travelers, we are also supporting the many thousands of people who depend on tourism, while driving revenue to companies that have been severely affected by the pandemic.”
Fees for all visa categories will include a nominal fee for medical insurance for COVID-19.
Saudi Arabia was one of the first countries to close its borders following the emergence of COVID-19. Since then, the government has implemented stringent health and safety protocols at all public venues, including hotels, restaurants, public buildings and offices.
Prior to the easing of regulations, visitors were required to submit a negative PCR test taken no more than 48 hours before arrival, while quarantine was required for visitors from some countries and others were red-listed due to the prevalence of COVID-19.
Saudi Arabia also launched a nationwide vaccination program, administering 61.3 million vaccines. Ninety-nine percent of the population over the age of 12 is now fully vaccinated. Saudi Arabia’s vaccination program will continue for the foreseeable future.
In terms of total COVID cases per million in the population, Saudi ranks 152nd in the world, significantly below the global average and lower than any other OECD country.
Saudi opened to international leisure travelers in September 2019, less than six months before its borders were closed due to the pandemic. The country shifted its tourism strategy to focus on building domestic visitation, opening 11 destination and creating more than 270 tourism packages. As a result, Saudi recorded two successive years of growth in leisure travel without seeing a concomitant surge in COVID cases.
In addition, in the last six months Saudi has hosted some of the largest public events in the world. The MDLBeast electronic dance festival attracted more than 720,000 visitors and the Riyadh Season entertainment festival has welcomed more than 11 million.