Saudi Arabia opens e-Visa system to South Africans

Sunday, October 29, 2023

Tourism Minister Patricia de Lille has commended the opening of the Saudi Arabia e-Visa system to South Africans.

This makes it easy for tourists from South Africa to apply for an e-visa for their travels to Saudi Arabia.

This follows de Lille’s recent official visit to Saudi Arabia to strengthen tourism relations with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia announced recently that it was expanding its visitor e-Visa programme to travellers from eight more countries, bringing the total to 57.

“I am extremely pleased with this development as South Africa also became the first African country to be added to the list. This will certainly bring immense benefits for leisure and Umrah travellers and for our efforts to grow tourism between South Africa and Saudi Arabia,” de Lille said.

The multi-entry eVisa is valid for one year and allows travellers to visit the Kingdom for up to 90 days at a time. It costs 535 Saudi riyals, which includes medical insurance.

The tourist visa allows travellers to take part in tourism-related activities such as events, family and relative visits, leisure, and Umrah (excluding Hajj) and excludes other activities such as studying.

In terms of the South African visa system, travellers from Saudi Arabia are part of the visa exempt countries and do not require a visa to travel to South Africa for a period of up to 90 days.

De Lille said Saudi Arabia is fast becoming an attractive tourist destination and is a key partner in department’s efforts to grow tourism between South Africa and the rest of the world.

The Department of Tourism has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Tourism Department which outlines their joint objectives to grow tourism between the two countries.

The Minister recently undertook an official visit to Saudi Arabia to attend the International World Tourism Day conference where various engagements took place to strengthen tourism relations and cooperation with Saudi Arabian stakeholders.

At the conference, the Minister met with a range of Saudi Arabian stakeholders, including the Air Connectivity Programme team within the Ministry of Tourism, as well as the Saudi Tourism Authority.

Discussions covered actions needed to improve air connectivity between Saudi Arabia and South Africa and a joint marketing strategy to promote both destinations to travellers in both countries.

Saudi Arabian Airlines has further announced the recommencement of a direct flight between Jeddah and Johannesburg starting on 1 December 2023.

“During our engagements, we shared research with the Saudi Air Connectivity Team to motivate for a direct flight between Jeddah and Cape Town. The e-Visa development is significant for South Africa as many Muslim citizens travel for religious purposes. Along with the direct flights, this will ease travel for many tourists but especially for religious tourism and pilgrimages.

“Through the fast and easy-to-use online portal, South Africans can apply for an e-Visa and discover the warm hospitality of Saudi people the rich heritage, vibrant culture, and diverse and breath-taking landscapes; from the mountains of Abha to the beaches of the Red Sea to the shifting sands of the Empty Quarter,” the Minister said.

De Lille added that South Africa will continue working with its counterparts in Saudi Arabia, through the Minister of Tourism, Ahmed Al Khateeb to look at new and innovative ways to grow tourism between the two countries, as “this key sector is an important part of our countries’ economies and a key job creator”. –