A decision by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities ( SCTA ) to start issuing tourist visas in six months will attract more than 7 million tourists and provide the national economy with more than SR35 billion in five years, a high-ranking tourism official said. Prince Abdullah Bin Saud Bin Muhammad, chairman of the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry ‘s ( JCCI ) tourism committee, believes the decision will drastically improve the Saudi tourism industry. “The Kingdom has huge tourist potential and will be one of the main attractions in the region thanks to the new decision,” he said. Prince Abdullah said the decision to issue tourist visas was an unprecedented move for the Saudi Kingdom. He recalled that the JCCI ‘s tourism committee, a number of businessmen and many other concerned parties have been calling for the issuance of tourist visas to boost the industry in the Kingdom. “The SCTA has finally responded positively to these requests,” he said. Prince Abdullah noted that the decision was accompanied by a number of other regulations to improve the accommodation sector including fines of up to SR50,000 for tourism facilities working without classification certificates. “The punishment will also cover any facility that may obstruct the entry of the SCTA ‘s supervisors and inspectors,” he added. The chairman said according to the preliminary estimates made by the SCTA , more than 1.5 million visitors are expected to come to the Kingdom annually on tourist visas. “If the average expenditure of a tourist is about SR5,000 per visit, the industry will ensure the national economy with more than SR35 billion in five years,” he said. The Prince said the decision would further boost tourism in the Kingdom, which is rich in natural scenery and rare historic sites. He asked for organizing an international conference to boost tourism in the Kingdom in addition to efforts to improve the industry and tackle all its challenges. Once the decision is implemented, it will be the first time people will come to the Kingdom for tourism.