News Analysis |
In light of increasing tourism and a much better security situation, the government of Pakistan has decided to issues visa on arrival to nationals from 24 friendly countries. The Foreign Office announced that it will offer 30-day visas at the time of arrival of tourists in groups from Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Luxembourg, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, the UK and the US.
The Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation said in a press briefing that with an internationally accepted improvement in the security paradigm, the flow of tourists to Pakistan tripled since 2013 to 1.75 million in 2016, of which domestic travellers were between 30% and 38%. Tourism contributed $19.4 billion to Pakistan’s economy in 2016, said a report of The World Travel and Tourism Council. In the next 10 years, the number can rise to $36.1 billion.
Depending on the nationality, two types of waivers will be issued, one which allows for a 180-day stay, whereas the other which allows for a 30-day stay that can be extended once for another 30 days
“All around the world, people belonging to the hospitality industry believe that an on-arrival visa is a huge attraction for international tourists that want to visit any particular country. This incentivizes the tourists with time saving and also gives off a welcoming message to the tourists,” commented a former foreign services official.
Around 13 million international passengers arrive in Pakistan every year, but 99% of them comprise of Pakistani expatriates and the labour force working in Middle Eastern countries who come to spend holidays at home. Ideally, one out of three should be a foreign tourist, so there is a potential for an increase in international tourists to 4 million in Pakistan, which will bring a visible change in the country’s aviation industry.
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“The on-arrival visa policy will help Pakistan aviation on multiple fronts,” remarked Muhammad Afsar Malik, former additional director of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). According to Travel Agents Association of Pakistan’s former chairman Yahya Polani, the on-arrival visa facility is just a small step and the government needs to take more serious measures to improve tourism in Pakistan.
Pakistan falls in the countries that have been offered the latter. According to Hassan Al Ibrahim, Chief Tourism Development officer at QTA, this move will make Qatar “the most open country in the world”.
He emphasized that Pakistan, embroiled in the war against terrorism for more than a decade, should counter the negative perception by telling tourists that it has now turned into a safe place for foreigners and would remain so in the future as well. “As the situation on the ground is not as bad as in people’s minds abroad, the government needs to work on portraying its positive image,” Polani said.
“We have never worked to improve our image in the world.” Commercial attachés in Pakistani consulates in the countries whose nationals have been offered on-arrival visa could be of particular help in highlighting the potential of the country.
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Contrary to popular belief, there are countries that issue Visa on Arrival to Pakistanis:
Guinea-Bissau: 90 days
Madagascar: 90 days
Maldives: 30 days
Mozambique: 30 days
Palau: 30 days
Samoa: Entry permit on arrival and validity of 60 days
Seychelles: Visitor’s permit on arrival and validity of 1 month
Timor-Leste: 30 days
Togo: 7 days
Tuvalu: 1 month
The most recent country to join this list is Qatar that issued the waiver to citizens of almost 80 countries. According to the official Qatar Airways website, a multi-entry waiver will be issued free-of-charge at the point of entry in the country. The only requirements for getting this waiver is to hold a valid passport of one of the listed countries and an air ticket to show the date of return, Global Village Space reported earlier.
Ideally, one out of three should be a foreign tourist, so there is a potential for an increase in international tourists to 4 million in Pakistan, which will bring a visible change in the country’s aviation industry.
Depending on the nationality, two types of waivers will be issued, one which allows for a 180-day stay, whereas the other which allows for a 30-day stay that can be extended once for another 30 days. Pakistan falls in the countries that have been offered the latter.
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According to Hassan Al Ibrahim, Chief Tourism Development officer at QTA, this move will make Qatar “the most open country in the world”. The classification of which nationals will get which of the two waivers was established by an evaluation of the situation of those specific countries. Pakistan was initially not included in the list but according to recent reports, Pakistan has been added to the countries which will be allowed the 30-day waiver.