Saudi Arabia has announced that it will grant visitor e-visa to travellers from eight newly-eligible countries: Albania, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Maldives, South Africa, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, for leisure, business and religious (Umrah only) travel.

Nationals of these countries can apply for a visitor visa ahead of their journey via the official e-visa portal.

The visitor e-visa is valid for an entire year, grants multiple entries, and permits a stay of up to 90 days, reported Saudi Press Agency.

Since launching the e-visa programme in 2019, the kingdom has welcomed 93.5 million visits in 2022, a 93 per cent increase compared to 2021, resulting in a tourism spend of SAR185bn ($49bn).

This tourism growth is due to expanding visa initiatives, which now include 57 nations and two special administrative regions, compared to the initial 49 countries at the programme’s launch.

Saudi Arabia: US, UK and Schengen visa holders eligible for instant e-visas

Meanwhile in 2022, the country extended regulations to provide a visitor e-visa to holders of valid Schengen, UK and US visas that have been used to enter those countries before arriving in Saudi Arabia and to permanent residents of EU and GCC countries, and the UK and the US.

Earlier this year, Saudi announced the launch of the free 96-hour Stopover Visa, allowing passengers to stay in the country for up to 96 hours.

Stopover Visa holders will be eligible for a complimentary one-night hotel stay during the stopover when booking through Saudia. Travellers can use the Stopover Visa to explore the country and perform Umrah.

Religious travellers can book flights through Saudia and Flynas and register for Umrah through the Nusuk platform.

This article originally appeared on Gulf Business 

(Image: Supplied by Diriyah)