Saudi Arabia will issue first tourist visas in 2018; Zahraa Alkhalisi & Richard Quest; CNN

Saudi Arabia – Al-Hijr Archaeological Site (Madâin Sâlih)

Saudi Arabia is unlikely to be on your vacation list. Its government is trying hard to change that.

The kingdom already welcomes millions of Muslims pilgrims who come to visit Mecca each year, and it is now gearing up to attract conventional tourists.

“The targets are people who want to literally experience this country and the grandness of this country,” Prince Sultan bin Salman, head of the Saudi tourism and national heritage commission, told CNNMoney’s Richard Quest.

Saudi Arabia plans to issue its first tourist visas in 2018, the prince said. Visas were previously restricted to people traveling to the country for work or to visit its holy sites.

Attracting tourists is a central plank of the country’s plan to reduce its reliance on oil.

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