Georgios Ship wreckage at the beach near Haql located in the Tabuk province of Saudi Arabia (RiyadhConnect Photo)

Saudi Arabia plans to begin issuing tourist visas to foreigners by 2018, a senior Saudi official told CNN.
 
The kingdom recently announced it would give out visas to tourists, in addition to business travelers, Muslim pilgrims, and those visiting family members.
 
The Saudi government is seeking to open up the kingdom and find new sources of revenue to diversify its economy and to cover a state budget deficit caused by low oil prices.
 
“The targets are people who want to come and literally experience this country, and really the grandness of this country,” Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, head of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Natural Heritage, said in a CNN interview late on Wednesday.
 
Prince Sultan said that his commission was mainly focusing on increasing numbers of local tourists. The commission has estimated Saudis spend more than $20 billion annually on tourism abroad, and persuading more of them to holiday inside the country would reduce that drain on the economy.
 
Saudi Arabia’s 32-year-old heir to the throne, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, is seeking to develop new industries to wean his country off its dependency on oil exports. Steps have also been taken to loosen social restrictions, scaling back the role of religious morality police and announcing plans to allowing women to drive by June 2018.