Saudi Arabia currently has the world shocked after making changes to its website revealing that members of the LGBTQ community are now allowed to visit and vacation in the country.
Yes, you read that correctly! A fully Islam nation that has been on the news on several occasions due to its strong anti-LGBT laws is now opening its doors to the rainbow community.
Saudi Arabia has been on a drive to attract tourists, and now it appears authorities in the country are going above and beyond by reaching out to a particularly lucrative section of the market: LGBTQ travelers.
The Saudi Tourism Authority (STA) website seems to have had its Q&A section updated to state that gay visitors are welcome in the kingdom.
However, they haven't 100% spelled it out in that nature but changes have been made.
"Everyone is welcome to visit Saudi Arabia and visitors are not asked to disclose such personal details," is the website's response to the question on its FAQ page: "Are LGBT visitors welcome to visit Saudi Arabia?"
It's not known exactly when the website was updated though.
A spokesperson for the STA said the policy had previously been in place, but an archived version of the website on March 14, 2023 and before did not have the question nor answer on the page.
Ironically, the nation is known for not only imprisoning but also on several occasions it has been accused of allegedly executing homosexuals.
Same-sex sexual activity is an offense in Saudi Arabia, according to Human Rights Watch.
It's important to note that LGBTQ+ travellers are a lucrative market, according to Darren Burn, CEO of Out Of Office, a luxury travel planning service for the community, and of Travel Gay, the world’s largest LGBTQ+ travel platform.
According to CNN, Darren confirmed for them that indeed gay couples as per their research have been noted to spend/travel more than straight couples
“Research shows they spend more money in a destination than heterosexual couples and tend to travel more times a year,” Dareen told CNN.
He went on to add, "It’s a very interesting and lucrative demographic, and countries are plowing major revenue into [attracting] it.”
Whether members of the rainbow community will take the bait and actually feel comfortable traveling to Saudi, is another matter altogether especially given the strict rules their neighbours Qatar had for the whole world during the 2022 World Cup Championship.