–Info minister announces e-visa facility for 175 nations, visa-on-arrival for 50 countries
–New regime eases visa policies for students, diplomats and businessmen
–NOC no longer required to visit GB, AJK, Cantonment areas
–On-arrival visa facility will also be granted to Indian origin individuals holding British or American passports
ISLAMABAD: Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Friday said that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led government has decided to introduce on-arrival visas for 50 countries and e-visas for 175 countries in order to boost the tourism industry in the country.
The announcement was made by the minister during a press talk outside the Parliament House.
Chaudhry said that Malaysia earns approximately $20 billion each year through tourism even though “they only have beaches” while Turkey earns around $40bn.
He said that Pakistan is a “paradise for tourism” and that the country’s visa regime “used to be open until about 1965 onwards”.
“We have mountain tourism, religious tourism, beach tourism, cities and huge food tourism. For this initiative, all agencies and departments put their heads together at the prime minister’s suggestion,” he said.
Chaudhry clarified that the on-arrival visa facility will be granted to Indian origin individuals holding British or American passports.
International Air Transport Association (IATA)-approved tour operators have also been granted permission to bring tourists to the country.
“We want to make ‘Naya Pakistan’ a heaven for tourists,” he added.
The minister also explained that work visa to citizens of 96 countries will be granted within 7-10 days after they receive letter from the Board of Investment.
Similarly, diplomatic visas have been extended from one year to three years while student visas have been extended from one to two years. Further, visas granted for religious purposes will be valid for 45 days.
The restrictions formerly placed on journalists barring them from travelling to more than three specified cities has also been lifted, Fawad explained, while adding that the Information Ministry will process their visas.
“They can go anywhere in Pakistan, they don’t need a No-Objection Certificate (NOC) anymore,” he said in reference to the requirement of obtaining NOCs before travelling to Gilgit-Baltistan, Cantonment areas and Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
“We want tourism to be promoted, to become the foundation for change in Pakistan,” the minister said.
The approval for the new visa regime was granted during a meeting between Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Thursday.