Pakistan’s dormant tourism industry

Pakistan’s Envoy to the US, Ambassador Masood Khan said that Pakistan has the most beautiful and undiscovered touristic sites with huge untapped tourism potential that needs to be realized and discovered. Ambassador Khan urged the global community and Pakistani diaspora abroad to help boost tourism in the scenic nation by investing in this potentially lucrative sector.

Pakistan is a blessed nation that enjoys a unique geography, diverse weather conditions, scenic beauty, vast untouched coastal line, and deserts, along with rich cultural heritage, and a mix of ancient and modern civilizations making the country one of the top travel destinations in the world. Unfortunately, these massive potentials could not be fully reaped by the developing nation due to a lack of investments, a partially developed tourism infrastructure, and the slackness of the ruling elite over the past decades. Realistically, there had been some unconcerted efforts at the state level by successive governments to promote tourism, however, neither an overall tourism-friendly environment could be developed nor our nation could attract global tourism, while Pakistan’s tourism industry bearly hosted a few thousand Sikhs, Hindus and Buddhists religious devotees from India, Sri Lanka, and some western nations in recent years.

Recently, Pakistan Mission in the United States and Pakistan Tourism Development Authority (PTDC) jointly participated in a two-day global Travel and Adventure Show in New York, along with other 750 entities from 185 countries around the globe. Pakistan’s pavilion showcased the culture of all provinces of Pakistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir, along with attractions of the ancient Ghandara civilization. In fact, Pakistan has a treasure of tourist destinations and natural beauty but we lacked suitable arrangements at most visiting sites, transport, lodging, and boarding facilities, tourist security, and an effective global campaign to attract international travelers to the country. The menace of terrorism and the unsatisfactory law and order situation had badly tarnished the image of the country at the global level and hurt foreign tourism in Pakistan.

The government of Pakistan has worked out various initiatives to promote tourism including the issuance of online visas with multiple extensions, the establishment of Tourist facilitation centers, a dedicated Police Force, and publicity campaigns abroad. Today, there is a dire need for a public-private partnership in the tourism industry of Pakistan and foreign investors particularly overseas Pakistanis could play an important role in branding and promoting Pakistan tourism destinations abroad. At the same time, the government needs to pour more funds into the development of state-of-the-art tourism sites, tourist facilities, and related infrastructure, coupled with a secure and tourist-friendly environment, while an incentivized tourism policy could attract foreign tourists, students, and businessmen to the country.

Pakistan needs to transform itself from a security state into a welfare and business-oriented nation, thus fundamental changes need to be introduced in its legal, banking, economic, and security regimes, so tourists, businessmen, students, and foreign citizens unhinderedly come to Pakistan, do business and enjoy leisure in the country without any fear. Hence, a wholehearted approach should be adopted by government entities, private businesses, and the public to help revive tourism in the country.