Saudi Arabia to allow tourists; travel ban from India remains

Riyadh: With the COVID-19 situation under control in many countries around the world, governments are lifting travel bans on tourists. Saudi Arabia’s tourism ministry on Friday announced that they will reopen their borders starting August 1, 2021, only for fully vaccinated tourists excluding India.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) will reopen its borders to tourists from August 1—Sunday for the first time in 18 months after imposing restrictions at the start of the pandemic to curb the spread of the COVID-19.

Currently, the countries facing travel bans are India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Egypt, Turkey, Argentina, Brazil, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, Ethiopia, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Lebanon.

The ban was prompted by the continued rise in cases of COVID-19 and its variants in these countries.

The authorities in the Kingdom are closely monitoring the global epidemiological situation since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, and decisions related to the travel ban are based on this.

Tourists who have been fully vaccinated from countries that do not face a travel ban may enter the kingdom, Saudi Arabia’s civil aviation authority said on July 31—Friday.

In a circular, the general authority of civil aviation (GACA), requested all airlines operating in the Kingdom, including private airlines, to grant access to travelers with tourist visas from countries from which they may come to Saudi Arabia in accordance with the announcement of the competent authorities and on the recommendations of the health committees.

According to the Saudi embassy, nationals of the following countries may obtain an E-visa (online) through the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage website, or upon arrival at any of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s ports of entry: Canada, the United States, Brunei, China (Hong Kong, Taipei, Macau), Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, and United Kingdom.

Fully vaccinated tourists will no longer need to enter into institutional quarantine in Saudi Arabia from August 1. They have to produce vaccination certificates upon arrival.

Apart from vaccination certificates, they have to present negative reports of PCR tests conducted in the last 72 hours from the time of departure, Saudi Gazette reported.

They have to register their vaccination data on the new portal (click here). The data is also recorded through the ‘Tawakkalna’ app which has to be shown while entering public places including shopping malls, cinemas, restaurants, and entertainment venues.

Approved vaccines in Saudi Arabia

Tourists who are vaccinated with two doses of Pfizer, AstraZeneca or Moderna or one dose of Johnson & Johnson will be considered fully vaccinated.

Meanwhile, those who have taken two doses of the Sinopharm or Sinovac vaccine will also be allowed if they receive an extra dose of one of the four vaccines listed above.

COVID-19 cases in Saudi Arabia

The cumulative number of COVID-19 cases in Saudi Arabia reached 524, 584 whereas, the total deaths climbed to 8,226. The counts of recoveries and active cases currently stand at 505, 003, and 11, 355 respectively.

The number of critical cases of COVID-19 in the kingdom has also dropped to 1395.

So far, over 26.28 crore doses of vaccines have been administered.