Saudi Arabia is pretty serious about attracting thousands of tourists to the city of Jeddah this summer. Earlier this week, authorities announced that an instant tourism e-visa will be issued to individuals who purchase a ticket to attend events held as part of the first edition of the Jeddah Season festival, Arab News reported.
The visa will be issued online visa Sharek within three minutes of a ticket purchase - something that aims to incentivize tourists to attend the festival.
In a statement on the matter, Raed Abuzinadah, the general supervisor of the festival - which began on June 8 and will run through July 18 - hailed the decision to speed up the visa process for festival-goers.
He explained that this initiative will not only help support the seasonal event but will also significantly contribute to efforts aimed at revitalizing the kingdom's tourism sector.
Just 10 years ago, the non-religious tourism industry was practically non-existent in the kingdom. However, in recent months, officials have been trying to change that, steering major efforts towards the sector, which is expected to contribute $70.9 billion to the kingdom's GDP in 2019.
Jeddah's first-ever summer festival is proving to be a success
The seasonal festival features a pretty epic concert line-up that is set to attract many visitors from inside and outside the kingdom.
It kicked off with a concert that saw Emirati singer Ahlam perform a "special national song as a gift to" King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. It was followed by another sold-out concert held by popular Saudi singer Mohammed Abdo.
On Monday, Egyptian star Amr Diab performed to thousands of his fans at the King Abdullah Sports City. Lebanese singer Nancy Ajram will also be making her Saudi debut at the festival on June 13.
In addition to that, the festival also features more than 150 activities, tapping into various sectors including entertainment, culture, food, and sports.
It's set to include "street music performances and parades, award-winning international visual arts displays with 3-D special effects lights shows inspired by Baroque art, spectacular flame mountain and laser shows, and a glow garden featuring customized art pieces depicting marine wildlife of the Red Sea."
Art galleries and exhibitions will also be part of the festival's events, so will folklore dances and performances.
As for food, people attending events will be enjoying dishes from award-winning Michelin-starred restaurants and pop-up eateries open at Jeddah's Waterfront as part of the festival.