‘ICCI Tourism Summit to be milestone for promoting northern areas’ beauty’

ISLAMABAD (APP): Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) President Ahsan Zafar Bakhtawari on Tuesday highlighted the significant growth potential tourism industry, emphasizing its status as one of the fastest-growing sectors globally.
Despite possessing immense tourism potential, Pakistan has yet to establish itself as an international tourism destination due to various reasons, he said in a press statement while mentioning many countries that generated billions of dollars annually through tourism “with more than 200 million tourists having traveled worldwide last year alone.”
In this context, he said the upcoming ICCI Tourism Summit, scheduled to be held in Skardu next week, was aimed at attracting global tourism by showcasing the positive image of the country to the world.
Bakhtawari mentioned that during the Eid –ul-Azha holidays, millions of tourists have already visited tourist resorts in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the northern regions. “These areas, despite facing challenges such as insufficient infrastructure and hotel industry regulations, possess a natural beauty that attracts tourists.”
The ICCI President said Pakistan’s tourism resources, particularly in KPK Kashmir, and the northern regions, were among the best in the world, capable of attracting tourists from all corners of the globe.
To increase the tourism industry’s contribution to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), he said it was crucial to attract foreign tourists, requiring focused attention from the government.
Bakhtawari stated that the global tourism industry was projected to generate approximately $2 trillion in revenue this year, compared to $1.451 trillion in 2018. “Tourism remains one of the fastest-growing industries worldwide.”
Egypt, for example, derives 50% of its GDP from tourism. Similarly, countries like Turkey, Malaysia, the Maldives, several African countries, Dubai, and Saudi Arabia serve as examples for Pakistan, having made substantial investments in tourism, he added.
Arab countries, the ICCI President said, by reducing their reliance on oil, have shifted their focus toward tourism and other industries. “Notably, Dubai and Saudi Arabia have invested billions of dollars.”
He was of the view that Pakistan should consider adopting a similar approach to attract international tourists. “This entails establishing direct flights, simplifying visa processes, and internationally branding the country’s tourist destinations.” He said several international organizations had already recognized Pakistan as one of the best tourism spots globally.
Moreover, with its impressive collection of towering peaks, including K-2 and Nanga Parbat, Pakistan has the potential to become a centre for adventure tourism, he added.
Bakhtawari said the primary objective of the ICCI tourism conference was to attract global attention to this breathtaking region, expressing hope that this summit would serve as a significant milestone in promoting tourism in the northern regions.