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Break new ground in tourism

Break new ground in tourism

Pakistan is one of the few countries in the world which are blessed with many natural attractions, four weathers, high mountains, deserts, vast delta plains and sea. It has one of the oldest civilizations in the world, locations with attractive scenic beauty, sacred religious and historic places, and rich culture and heritage. These tourist attractions are spread across the country.

Pakistan has everything that a country can wish for. It is home to many mountains above 7,000 metres; five of the world’s fourteen mountains taller than 8,000 metres are in Pakistan. Most of Pakistan’s high peaks are located in the Karakoram range, the highest of which is K2 (8,611 meters long), the second-highest peak on earth. The highest peak in the Himalayan range in Pakistan is Nanga Parbat (8,126 metres), which is the ninth-highest peak in the world.

Tourism activities are considered to be one of the major sources of economic growth in most of the countries. It can be regarded as a mechanism for generating employment as well as income in both formal and informal sectors. Tourism supplements the foreign exchange earnings derived from trade and foreign remittances. Tourism also brings a lot of economic growth in developed economies and attracts foreign travelers, which translates into foreign reserve earnings. The rapid growth of tourism can lead to the growth of household incomes and government revenues directly and indirectly by means of multiplier effects including improving the balance of payments. Overall, the development of tourism is generally considered a positive contribution to economic growth.

Best Landscape

Pakistan has a huge potential for tourism revenue by attracting millions of local and foreign tourists. Tourist attractions like Swat, Kalam, Malam Jaba, Shangla, Balakot, Ayubia, Murree, Chitral, Gilgit, Naran and Kaghan Valleys, Gwadar and many other mountain ranges, historical, and archaeological places in the other parts of the country should be explored fully. Pakistan’s northern areas have one of the best landscapes in the world. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that few areas in the world offer such a unique blend of breathtaking natural beauty and a rich diversity of culture, socioeconomic traditions, history and lifestyle as in the Hindukush-Himalayan region of Pakistan. Furthermore, Pakistan has tremendous potential in the fields of echo and safari tourism.

There is also a huge scope of religious tourism in Pakistan. Religious tourism involves visiting holy places or buildings specified for worship purposes and for spiritual pleasures. In Pakistan, worshippers of three different religions and civilisations are present i.e., Islam, Hinduism, Christianity and Sikhism. Pakistan has a tremendous ancient Islamic heritage and history and has a religious heritage of other religions. For instance, Gurdwaras’ holy places, located in Nankana Sahib, Kartarpur and Hasan Abdal, are the most crucial persuasion sites for the Sikh community worldwide. Moreover, in Pakistan, shrines of different saints and Sufi are also located attract a large number of believers from Pakistan and other countries. These shrines include Shah Abdul Latif Bhattai, Lal Shahbaz Qalandarin from Sindh, Data Ganj Bakhsh Ali Hujwairi, Hazrat Baba Fariduddin Ganj-e-Shakar, Mian Mir, Shah Hussain, Bahauddin Zakaria in Punjab. Some religions, like, Kalash inhabitants are also living in Pakistan. Likewise, Hindu religious believers can visit Pakistan for a number of their shrines in Pakistan like Katas Raj temples and places. This is only possible when there is peace in the country and people are accommodating other religious people and are able to move freely.

In 2020, Pakistan was ranked as the third most favourite tourist destination in the world. With an improved security situation in the country, tourism rose by more than 300 per cent. Now, it has again dropped due to some other factors. It is important to understand that if there is peace, tourism can generate massive revenue, which then onward will create a lot of economic activity in the country. Tourism is one sector where a lot of revenue can be earned by focusing on natural resources and improving behaviours and attitudes.

The tourism industry in Pakistan has many challenges as well. The infrastructure is depleted, northern areas of Pakistan are not easily accessible, hotels are also not of good quality and safety and security is also another concern. Quality infrastructure is crucial for boosting tourism, including airports, access to roads, vehicles, trains, aircraft, services, dining establishments, lodging options (hotels, motels), and local tour operators.

Moreover, tourist places are mostly neglected and is also a reason for Pakistan’s dismal tourist situation. In the past, successive governments ignored the construction of hotels or other potential locations for tourist routes that could attract both residents and visitors. In order to transform stunning locations into popular tourist attractions, hotels or resorts are needed. In the past, there were opportunities where governments wanted to facilitate and issue consents to the private sector for constructing hotels and accommodations in northern areas but then the allocation of land at heavily discounted prices and issuance of consents created a lot of issues because of alleged accusations of corrupt practices. The private sector should also show some grace and use the land for the very purpose for which it has been obtained rather than constructing their own houses. The Pakistani community is welcoming, compassionate and hospitable in general. However, this is not always the case. For instance, if you travel alone to the north, you may encounter locals who will make every effort to overcharge you for their services. The second issue is how people behave in specific places, like Murree, where there have been numerous instances of tourists being beaten by locals on social media.

Promotion activities

Sports events like PSL (Pakistan Super League) and Asia Cup and other tournaments can also promote tourism in the country if associated matters are addressed in time. Stadiums in Pakistan are of not good quality, washrooms are ugly and overall grounds don’t give pleasant feelings. These things matter. Countries fight to get the rights to host Olympics and world sports events just to promote tourism in the country, which then creates a lot of business opportunities in those countries. Tourism is a full-scale sector which is heavily neglected in Pakistan.

Pakistan’s security situation and terrorist problems have a direct and severe influence on tourism. The security situation is ideally not stable even today despite the best efforts by the security agencies of Pakistan, we see terrorist attacks. In order to promote tourism, it is important to improve the security situation in the country. Without addressing the root cause of terrorism and crushing and giving punishments to the terrorists, things will never improve. federal and provincial governments should engage in social media as well to promote tourism in the country. The value of media in boosting tourism in Pakistan cannot be ignored. These days, more individuals are promoting Pakistan’s stunning and lovely locations on various social media platforms.

Way forward

Today, a lot of blogs, vlogs, and tourist organisations are highly active in spreading a favourable impression of Pakistan throughout the world and encouraging travel to Pakistan.

In order to fully exploit this immense potential, there is a need to address a number of issues faced by the tourism industry in Pakistan. The government should work on new opportunities to develop the country’s mostly undeveloped tourism industry. The Government of Pakistan should dedicate time and effort to promoting tourism in the country, it is an equally important source of revenue creation, including making it simpler to get visas, facilitating tourist entry and providing them with safety and security while travelling. However, the state’s policies alone cannot bring about the growth of the tourism sector, private sector and the general public should also contribute positively in this regard. A societal upheaval is required to create a tourist-friendly atmosphere in Pakistan, based, among other things, on pleasant surroundings, easy travel, unhindered multidimensional transport, high-speed internet, a relaxed and open social environment, easy access to priced accommodation, normal law-and-order conditions, and so on.

A lot of research work has already been done in the tourism sector of Pakistan and now it’s time to work on the ground rather than further wasting time on identifying challenges and their potential solutions. As a country, we need to improve our image if we really want to grow and want a respectable place on the global stage.

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