Saudi Arabia confirms LGBT visitors are welcome in kingdom

The official Saudi Arabia tourism website has been updated to confirm that LGBT visitors are welcome in the kingdom and unmarried couples can share accommodation.

In its Frequently Asked Questions section, the Visit Saudi Arabia website’s response to the question “Are LGBT visitors welcome to visit Saudi Arabia?” says: “Everyone is welcome to visit Saudi Arabia and visitors are not asked to disclose such personal details.”

The website also responds to the question “Are unmarried couples welcome to visit Saudi Arabia?” by saying: “Everyone is welcome to visit Saudi Arabia. As is the case when visiting other countries, it is important to respect local customs and act in a culturally appropriate manner. Unmarried couples are able to share accommodation.”

However, Saudi is sticking to the Islamic prohibition on alcohol.

The website asks “Is alcohol available in Saudi Arabia?” The response is: “No. The consumption of alcohol is illegal in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia offers unique and authentic experiences. Explorers, culture enthusiasts and adventurers will be able to enjoy these without alcohol.”

Saudi Arabia has been actively working to expand its tourism industry in recent years as part of its Vision 2030 plan to diversify the country’s economy and reduce its dependence on oil.

The government has launched several initiatives to attract more tourists to the country, such as easing visa restrictions and investing in infrastructure, attractions, and events.

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The LGBTQ+ travel market is a growing and lucrative segment of the travel industry.

According to a report by the International LGBTQ+ Travel Association (IGLTA), the global LGBTQ+ travel market is estimated to be worth over $218 billion annually.

That said, homosexuality is still illegal in Saudi Arabia and is considered a criminal offence as per Islamic law which views homosexuality as a major sin and a threat to the traditional family structure.

Under Saudi Arabian law, homosexual acts are punishable by imprisonment, fines, and even the death penalty. In practice, authorities may also use flogging or other forms of physical punishment.

Up until now public displays of homosexuality or other LGBTQ+ activities have not been tolerated.

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