New Delhi: In a bid to attract holidaymakers, Saudi Arabia has launched a new tourist visa regime that lets foreign men and women rent hotel rooms together without proving their relations, stated news agency Reuters. Unmarried foreigners can now stay together in a country where sex outside marriage was previously banned.

Breaking away from the strict norms that were earlier in use, the conservative country even permits women to book hotel rooms by themselves. This new move comes as a welcoming gesture for unaccompanied women by encouraging them to travel more.

Last week, Saudi Arabia welcomed tourists from across 49 countries. A report stated that the country is planning to diversify its economy to the tourism sector, rather than focussing on just oil exports. Notably, foreign visitors to the country have been asked to wear modest clothes of their choice, instead of the all-covering black robe. However, alcohol is still strictly banned.

Prior to the ease in restrictions, unrelated foreign men and women when seen in public were subject to severe punishments. It must be noted that only resident workers, business partners, and Muslim pilgrims with special visas to Mecca and Medina were allowed to visit the country till date, stated a report.