Saudi Arabia has added South Africa to its list of nationalities that are eligible for electronic visas (e-visas).
This will come as good news for the number of South Africans who travel to Saudi Arabia for religious and business purposes.
South African passports appear to be gaining favourability in recent times. Saudi Arabia is not the first country to ease restrictions for SA passport holders.
Japan has also recently added South Africa to the list of nationalities that are eligible to apply for e-visas for short stays in that country.
Saudi Arabia announced the expansion of its visitor e-visa scheme to nationals of eight countries.
The countries include Albania, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, the Maldives, South Africa, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
According to Arab News, nationals of these countries can apply for visitor visas electronically or on arrival at one of the Kingdom’s ports.
E-visas are much easier to obtain than traditional visas.
Traditional visas often require much paperwork, interviews and the handling fees of intermediaries.
Saudi Arabia is in the process of scaling up its tourism industry.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is currently establishing the infrastructure required for its tourism sector.
On 12 March this year, the Saudi Crown Prince announced the establishment of a second national carrier, Riyadh Air, which will facilitate the growth of travel to the Kingdom.
The new e-visas will also undoubtedly help to open up Saudi Arabia for travel purposes.
Saudi e-visas may be used for tourist and business trips and religious pilgrimages.
Arab News states that passport holders of eligible countries can use e-visas to tour the Kingdom, perform Umrah, visit family and friends, and for business purposes.
“By expanding the e-visas to 8 new countries, Saudi Arabia takes another step forward in opening its doors to the world and offering an easier and simplified travel experience for all visitors to the Kingdom,” the Kingdom’s Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khateeb said.