Tourism is fast moving away from what it used to be in Pakistan, and definitely, moving forward for better. Now, it is not only about people coming in to behold the beautiful landscapes, mountains, rivers, and all other amazing sceneries the country has to offer, it is now more about the government’s continuously developing interest in tourism and how different methods are being explored to show it is one of the major interests of Pakistan, the most recent of which is the announcement of a “new revolutionary visa policy” as announced by Fawad Chaudhry, the Information Minister, the result which would be an improved tourism in the country.
From the recent actions of the government, it is obvious that the incumbent PTI-led government is strongly believing in the capability of tourism to improve the country, and the government is ready to do everything to achieve it.
According to the words of Chaudhry, Malaysia, a country that has only beaches, earns about $20 billion from tourism each year, and Turkey earns about $40 billion each year as well. Pakistan has a lot to offer in tourism than many other countries. It has mountain tourism, water tourism, valley tourism, beach tourism, religion, and food tourism. Pakistan ranks as one of the most beautiful countries in the universe. The prime minister suggested that the nation should try more to look into tourism and this has made all departments, agencies, and initiative, think together as one.
To clearly explain the new development, the government’s new decision is to see the availability of e-visa facility to 175 countries and visa on arrival to 50 countries. The Visa on arrival will be made available to Indian-origin British and American citizens that hold the United Kingdom or the United States passports. Also, operators of tours who have been successfully approved by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) can now fly in a huge number of tourists into Pakistan.
Also, there is no much stress again if you have to process a work visa to nationals of 96 countries for business reasons. Just within seven to ten days after applicants have been issued a letter by the Board of Investment, they will receive their Visa.
It also extends to students’ visa, which has been extended from one year to two years, and diplomatic visa, that has been extended from one year to three years. If it is for a religion visa, it will be valid for a period of 45 days.
Before, the movement of journalists was limited to only three cities. Now, such restriction has been lifted. The Information Ministry will be the one to process the visas of journalists, and they have no such restriction as they used to have.
Also, foreign tourists are always requested to present a no-objection certificate (NOC) before they can visit Kashmir, cantonments, Gilgit Balstian, Azad Jammu, but now, the restriction is lifted. They can go anywhere they like in Pakistan without necessarily having to get any special certificate.
The PTI in its manifesto showed its interest in tourism by promising to develop 20 new tourist destinations during its regime, and truly, with the way the administration is handling tourism, we can only hope for more in the future.