Saudi Arabia simplifies visa processes to attract Indian tourists

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Saudi Arabia is making it easier than ever for Indian tourists to explore its diverse landscapes and rich cultural heritage with a range of tourist visa options. The updated regulations and simplified entry processes aim to encourage more visitors from India to experience the dynamic cityscape of Riyadh, the cultural diversity of Jeddah, the undiscovered gems of the Red Sea, and the historical wonders of AlUla.

In a bid to accommodate the diverse travel requirements of Indian tourists, Saudi Arabia now offers a variety of visa options, including stopover visas, eVisas, and visas-on-arrival. The introduction of these streamlined services is expected to significantly boost tourism, aligning with Saudi Vision 2030’s goal of welcoming 7.5 million Indian tourists by 2030. By the end of 2024, Saudi Arabia aims to attract 2.2 million tourists from India, tapping into its potential as the world’s largest source market.

To facilitate the visa application process, Saudi Arabia has established ten visa centers across major Indian cities, including Mumbai, Delhi, Cochin, Chennai, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Lucknow, Kolkata, and Calicut. These centers offer specialized services to assist travelers with their visa applications. Plans are also underway to open more centers in other cities, further enhancing accessibility for Indian tourists.

The Saudi Arabia Stopover Visa allows Indian tourists to apply online up to 90 days in advance through the Saudia website. This visa is valid for 96 hours and incurs a nominal fee for administrative and insurance services, providing a convenient option for short visits.

The eVisa is available to Indian nationals holding a valid tourist or business visa from the US, UK, or any Schengen nation, as well as permanent residents and those with a valid residency visa from a GCC nation. This visa can be obtained online before travel through the official website.

For those meeting the same criteria, visas-on-arrival can be obtained at Saudi international airports. Visitors can apply at passport control offices or self-service kiosks upon arrival, ensuring a smooth entry process.

Indian tourists who do not meet the specific visa criteria can apply at the designated visa centers in India. The process includes preparing documents, scheduling appointments, submitting applications, enrolling in biometrics, and retrieving passports. Umrah-seekers can also choose from the available visa options to facilitate their pilgrimage.

The introduction of these new visa options offers several advantages. Increased travel flexibility allows Indian tourists to plan their trips to Saudi Arabia with greater ease, thanks to multiple entry visas and extended validity periods. The promotion of tourism aims to showcase Saudi Arabia’s modern attractions and rich cultural legacy to Indian travelers. The business visa facilitates travel for Indian professionals, fostering closer commercial partnerships and economic relations between the two nations. Additionally, the student visa supports academic and cultural exchange by enabling Indian students to pursue higher education in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia’s initiative is expected to significantly enhance travel and tourism, strengthen people-to-people connections, and further solidify the already strong ties between Saudi Arabia and India.