Cairo: Saudi regulations, outlining rules for organising tourist trips, are allowing female nationals to be engaged in the business, a local newspaper reported, as the country is vigorously seeking to empower women.

According to the regulations, which went into effect Friday, tour organiser must be a Saudi national – a male or a female – or a foreign investor having a valid licence, Okaz newspaper said.

In 2018, the kingdom allowed women to drive for the first time in its history, ending a decades-old ban on female driving. In another move enhancing women’s empowerment, Saudi authorities have allowed women to travel without a male guard’s approval and to apply for a passport, easing long-time controls on them.

Saudi Arabia is endeavouring to boost its tourism industry as part of an ambitious plan aimed at diversifying the oil-reliant economy.

According to the Saudi regulations, the tour organiser is defined as a person licensed to organise tourism itineraries and market them inside or outside the kingdom in return for specific charges.

The services that tour organisers are allowed to offer include car rentals, accommodation, entertainment, management of tourist destinations and insurance brokerage.

Potential dangers

Under the new rules, the Tourism Ministry has obliged tour organisers to cover tourists and travellers with insurance against all potential dangers and damage that could result from trips, Okaz reported.

Organisers are banned from operating programmes in military, border, customs or private zones without obtaining a permit, and are committed to observing instructions prohibiting photo-taking there.

Last year, Saudi Arabia launched a new visa scheme aimed at attracting foreign holidaymakers to the kingdom. The instant tourist visa is obtained online or upon arrival at the Saudi airports.

Before the global coronavirus pandemic, Saudi Arabia’s aim was to attract 100 million visitors annually by 2030.