As Saudi Arabia strives to boost tourism, the country’s authorities seem to be targeting a particularly affluent demographic: LGBTQ+ travellers, with the Saudi Tourism Authority (STA), now stating that gay visitors are welcome in the kingdom.

Updating its Q&A section on the STA website, the answer to the FAQ query, “Are LGBT visitors welcome to visit Saudi Arabia?” now says that “everyone is welcome to visit Saudi Arabia and visitors are not asked to disclose such personal details.” 

The exact date of the website update remains uncertain, and while an STA spokesperson claimed that the policy had been in place earlier, an archived version of the website from March 14, 2023, and prior did not include the question and answer.


Same-sex sexual activity is an offence in Saudi Arabia, as reported by Human Rights Watch. The Human Dignity Trust, an organisation advocating for LGBTQ+ rights globally, states that transgender individuals can also face prosecution in Saudi Arabia, with “substantial evidence of the law being enforced” and “consistent reports of discrimination and violence” against LGBTQ+ people.

LGBTQ+ travellers represent 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.

Burn explained that research indicates LGBTQ+ travellers tend to spend more money and travel more frequently than heterosexual couples, making them an attractive demographic for countries to invest in.

However, whether LGBTQ travellers will feel safe while visiting Saudi Arabia is another matter. Burn acknowledged that destinations like the Maldives and Dubai, where homosexuality is a criminal offence, are popular. Still, without more assurances from authorities, Saudi Arabia might be a more challenging sell.

Burn also expressed concern over the potential discrepancies between the website’s statement and the reality on the ground.