ISLAMABAD: The government on Saturday launched an on-arrival visa facility for citizens of five preferred countries on a trial basis.
Prime Minister Imran Khan would formally inaugurate the new visa policy on March 14, sources privy to the development told The Express Tribune.
Initially, citizens of United Kingdom, Turkey, China, Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates would be facilitated.
Moreover, all member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) will be given on-arrival visa for 30 days once the policy is further expanded.
It is believed that the step was taken in view of Pakistan’s relations with countries in the region.
The new visa policy aims to bolster trade and foreign investment into the country.
Premier Imran has doubled down on the need to expand Pakistan’s tourism industry.
He has spoken of the potential for religious tourism, as well as, highlighting the diverse topography to attract foreigners to visit the country.
In January, 2019, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Pakistan (PTI) government had said it was easing travel restrictions in the hope of reviving tourism by offering visas on arrival to visitors from 50 countries and electronic visas to 175 nationalities.
The reforms, approved by the cabinet, would open up a new era for the tourism industry, which was devastated by terrorist violence after the September 11, 2001, attacks in the United States, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry had said.
The new visa regime comes after some countries eased travel advisories on Pakistan in light of improvements in security.
Pakistan was last a prominent tourist destination in the 1970s when the “hippie trail” brought Western travellers through the apricot and walnut orchards of the Swat Valley and Kashmir on their way to India and Nepal.