GILGIT: The Ministry of Interior, Government of Pakistan has told all the tour operators and the foreign tourists that obtaining a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the Interior ministry in Islamabad is compulsory for all Gilgit-Baltistan visiting foreign tourists.
In this regard, a letter was also sent by the ministry to the Gilgit-Baltistan government says that it has been reported that foreigners are frequently visiting Gilgit-Baltistan without obtaining an NOC or security clearance from the ministry, which is against the rules. The letter asks the authorities concerned to take concrete measures to curb the practice.
Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Minister Hafizur Rehman has approached the federal interior ministry against its decision of making no-objection certificate (NOC) compulsory for foreign tourists, Holiday weekly has learnt.
The different travel and tourism associations, the seniors of travel trade industry and the Pakistan Association of Tour Operators (PATO) has said the move is not good for the promotion of tourism Gilgit-Baltistan and they believe that the imposition of the ban would adversely affect the tourism industry in the region.
“Seventy per cent of GB people depend on tourism to earn a livelihood as there is no other industry in the region. The tourism industry in the region has already been destroyed after the situation unfolding in South Asia in the wake of 9/11,” he said. “The industry has also been damaged because of operations against terrorists in the north of Pakistan and the Nanga Parbat massacre of 2012,” said PATO joint secretary Muhammad Ali while talking to media.
The Chief Minister GB in a letter addressed to the Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, asked the movement of the foreigner to Gilgit-Baltistan without prior NOC from the interior ministry Islamabad.
The letter further added the interior ministry notification seriously dented our efforts.
Gilgit-Baltistan is a famous destination for international tourists, adding that the GB government and tours operators have worked hard to attract the tourists from all over the world.
The letter added the government and tour operators have been attending almost all international tourism festivals, expos and meetings, and showcasing the beauty of GB even in last ITB Berlin 2017.
The letter stated very encouraging results are coming off the efforts made by the government and tourists operators in this regard.
Each year number of foreign tourists is increasing which is a very healthy sign for the local economy as well as national exchequer and protecting the soft image of Pakistan.
The letter further stated that the entire tourism fraternity of GB is in serious protest over this virtual lockdown of GB.
GB is among the most peaceful parts of Pakistan and this ban even more unjustified and discriminatory. If security is the underlying reason, then NOC condition should not be limited to GB, but the whole country.
All the rest which valid visa will not need any extra NOC/clearance from the ministry concerned as it will tantamount to lockdown GB completely for all foreigners thereby bringing a huge loss to the tourism industry and country alike.
The letter requests that matter may be looked into for resolution of the issue in the best interest of GB and our national image.