Saudi Arabia’s embryonic efforts to turn the kingdom into a magnet for holidaymakers attracted 50,000 visitors since the September launch, and almost three times that number applied for tourist visas officials hope will diversify an oil-dependent economy.
British tourists, followed by Chinese, were the top visitors, Ahmed Al-Khateeb, chairman of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH), has said. About 140,000 people requested tourist visas, he said.
While representing an important beginning for the kingdom, there’s a long way to go before it can compare to long-established regional destinations. Dubai received more than 130,000 Saudi tourists a month on average last year. Officials say they’ll need to add flights and hotel rooms to meet demand as they chase their targets.