Saudi Arabia has just dropped a raft of COVID-19 health and safety rules for tourists, making the country one of the most accessible in the world ahead of its new cruise season.
Saudi Arabia will no longer require PCR test results for tourists to the country, or proof of vaccination, making its cruise sector far more accessible for international cruise tourists.
As long as cruise passengers have obtained a tourism visa prior to arrival, none of the previous COVID-related entry restrictions will apply.
Saudi Arabia is now “one of the most accessible destinations to travelers in the world,” the country’s tourism authority said in a press release.
Effective immediately, visitors to Saudi will no longer need to present proof of vaccination or a PCR test to enter the country.
Social distancing rules are set to be lifted across the country, while facemasks will only be required in enclosed public places.
Institutional quarantine requirements are also being entirely removed, and all travelers from the countries currently red-listed will be allowed entry.
“We welcome this decision by the central government, which protects both lives and livelihoods while welcoming travelers back to Saudi Arabia,” said Ahmed Al Khateeb, Minister of Tourism for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Al Khateeb hailed Saudi Arabia’s ambitious vaccination program and other efforts to minimize the spread of the virus as the reason the easing of rules was now possible.
“By reducing costs and inconveniences for travelers, we are supporting the many thousands of people who depend on tourism, while driving revenue to companies that have been severely affected by the pandemic,” he added.
Saudi Arabia recently opened up to cruise tourism, and expects the industry to bring more than 1-million passengers to the country, and employ more than 50,000 Saudi nationals, by 2028.
MSC Cruises has signed a five-year berthing agreement at Jeddah port, where it homeports annually for the winter cruise season, sailing week-long roundtrip itineraries in the Red Sea.
Fees for all visa categories will now include a nominal fee for medical insurance for COVID-19, with MSC Cruises already offering its own COVID-19 medical insurance program.
Prior to the easing of regulations, tourists in Saudi Arabia were required to submit a negative PCR test taken no more than 48 hours before arrival, while quarantine was required for visitors from some countries and others were red-listed due to the prevalence of COVID-19.