Northman & Sterling

Saudi Arabia Receives Approved Destination Status from China

Saudi Arabia Grants Approved Destination Status to China

China has officially granted Approved Destination Status (ADS) by Saudi Arabia, effective July 1, 2024. This announcement follows Saudi Arabia’s participation in the second China roadshow and ITB China in Shanghai.

This strategic move highlights Saudi Arabia’s commitment to becoming a key economic partner with China, opening up new opportunities in the tourism sector and fostering mutual understanding, friendship, and economic development between the two countries.

The ADS designation is a major milestone for group travel to Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom aims to make China its third largest source market for international arrivals by 2030. In preparation for this, Saudi Arabia has significantly increased direct flights since 2023, introduced tailored travel products, and formed strategic partnerships to enhance group and Flexible Independent Travel (FIT) experiences.

Readiness for Chinese Visitors

Saudi Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khateeb stated that the official ADS status signifies Saudi Arabia’s readiness for Chinese visitors and marks progress toward making China the Kingdom’s third largest tourism market by 2030. “The Saudi Tourism Authority has played a crucial role in visa facilitation, reducing fees, improving air connectivity, and ensuring destination readiness with Mandarin-language information available on, Mandarin signage at airports, and Mandarin-speaking tour guides and hotel staff,” he said.

Strengthening Bilateral Ties

Saudi ambassador to China, Abdulrahman Ahmad Al-Harbi, emphasized the broader impact of the ADS agreement: “By strengthening bilateral ties with China, the ADS agreement opens doors for economic development across various sectors, benefiting both nations.”

Enhanced Visitor Experience

CEO of the Saudi Tourism Authority, Fahd Hamidaddin, noted, “Saudi Arabia’s approval as a tourist destination for Chinese visitors reflects our continuous efforts and participation in trade shows and conferences, leading to agreements with Chinese organizations. We strive to provide a seamless, enjoyable, and safe experience for Chinese tourists, including streamlined visa procedures, increased flight capacity, and Mandarin integration across airports, destinations, tourist sites, and digital platforms like the ‘Visit Saudi’ website. Partnerships with trusted Chinese brands such as UnionPay,, Huawei, and Tencent further enhance our offerings.”

Ambitious Tourism Goals

Saudi Arabia is aiming to attract five million Chinese tourists by 2030. To support this goal, the Kingdom is enhancing connectivity with new direct flights by Air China, China Eastern, and China Southern, in addition to existing Saudia flights. These initiatives represent a 130 percent increase in inbound seat capacity, doubling weekly flight frequency compared to a year ago.