The Chinese government has granted Approved Destination Status (ADS) to Saudi Arabia, as the kingdom seeks to boost tourism arrivals under its ambitious initiative to diversify its economy.

With the new destination status, Chinese citizens can travel to Saudi Arabia in group tours and enjoy “greater ease of access” to the kingdom, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Tuesday.

China issued the destination status following the signing of a bilateral agreement between the two states in Beijing.

The ADS is considered a major milestone for the Gulf state, as it will boost the connectivity between the two countries and open new tourism opportunities.

Saudi Arabia, which opened its borders to the world in 2019, seeks to attract 100 million visitors every year by 2030.

During the first quarter of 2023, visitor arrivals in Saudi Arabia reached nearly pre-pandemic levels, according to HSBC Global Research.

(Writing by Cleofe Maceda; editing by Seban Scaria)