New Delhi: Days after launching visa-on-arrival facility for senior Pakistani citizens, India has started the process of providing the 'group tourist visa' on a reciprocal basis.
The 'group tourist' visa was to be launched from March 15 but it was put on hold after tension along the border following the brutal killing of two Indian soldiers. Besides, Pakistan has so far failed to send a list of authorised tour operators to India.
Home Ministry officials said that as the situation along the India-Pakistan border has improved, New Delhi is awaiting a response from Islamabad on the list of authorised tour operators for launching the 'group tourist' visa facility.
India has already identified 18 such tour\travel operators on its side and shared it with Pakistann Home Ministry, the officials said. According to the new liberalized visa pact between the two countries, group tourist visa would be offered for a period of 30 days to tourists travelling in groups with not less than 10 members and not more than 50 members, organized by approved tour operators or travel agents.
Though the visa pact was signed in September 2012, it could not be operationalised until December 14 when Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde and his Pakistani counterpart Rehman Malik had formally launched the process.
Some clauses of the relaxed visa regime like multiple-entry and police reporting-free visas for businessmen and allowing them to travel to five cities instead of the earlier three had come into force in December last year.
Later, on April 1, both the countries had started visa- on-arrival facility for each other's senior citizens (more than 65 years of age). This is a single-entry visa, granted for a maximum of 45 days. The facility was started at the Attari Integrated Check Post (ICP) on reciprocal basis.
The visa-on-arrival facility was scheduled to be started from January 15 but was put on hold in the wake of tension along the border after the killing of two Indian soldiers.