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Tourism Industry in Pakistan: Potential, issues/challenges and way forward

Outline:

1. Introduction
2. Tourism Potential in pakistan
i. Religious Tourism (budhisim, sikh, Hindu,)
ii. Cultural Tourism
iii. Historical Toursim (Taxila, Indus, Harrapa)
iv. Natural Landscape

3. Issues
i. Security issues & terrorism
ii. Economic Instability
iii. Restrictions in touristic Visa
iv. Poor facilities/services
v. Lack of toursim promotion

4. Way Forward

i. Improve infrastructure & facilities at tourist destinations


ii. Promoting Tourism through media & advertisement
iii. Strenthning Toursim Department
iv. Ease in touristic visa’s for tourists

5. Conclusion
Tourism is one of the fatest growing industry across the globe. It plays vital
role in economic growth, development and promotion of culture. Pakistan is among
those countries which has great potential for toursim and it ranges from historical,
archaelogical, religious sites to beautiful landscape and heritage. By promoting toursim,
Pakistan can not only earn great deal of income to support its fragile economy but also
promote its culture, tradition and positive image in the world. Foriegn tourists/vloggers
like Ev Zu beck from Poland and Rosie Gabriel from Canada has spread soft image of
Pakistan on social media by making short videos, showing diverse culture, historical
sites, food, heritage and fascinating landscape of Pakistan. Not only this, Pakistan is a
home to worlds great civilizations like Harrapa and Indus valley which consequently
gave birth to diverse cultures across the subcontinet. Moreover, Pakistan is the birth
place of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhisim and his shrine is located in Pubjab where
thousands of people come from all over the world to visit. Furthermore, ruins of Bhudist
civilization have been found at Takht Bai, Pakistan which is considered sacred place by
Bhudist. Additionally, the beautiful locaions of northern areas of Pakistan make people
fall in love with nature. In the wake of terrorism after 9/11, Pakistan has witnessed
sharp decline in tourism. Foriegn tourists are reluctant to visit Pakistan as it is
considered least safe place to visit, owing to security threats. Pakistan needs to revive
its tourism industry on war footing basis. Pakistan needs to promote tourism through
media and improve facilities at the touristic destinations. It needs to improve
infrastructure and bring relaxation in touristic visa policies which will not only uplift
fragile economy but will also promote its soft image and will create employment.

Pakistan has great potential in tourism and it offers variety of touristic


oppurtunities for people. It ranges from religious, historical to beautiful landscape.
Following are some tourism oppourtunities offered by Pakistan.
Religious tourism is very popular among people belonging to different
faith. Pilgrimage to sacred places provide people innner peace, spritual and emotional
strength. A sacred journey enables man to communicate with God. The resting place of
Baba Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, is located in Punjab. Every year thousands of
Sikh from India and other parts of the world, come to take the blessings from their
spritual leader. Despite having this potential, Pakistan has failed to tap it altogether and
according to a report only 6000 thousand Sikh visit Gurdwara every year as compared to
50 million visitors at Golden Temple, in India.

Furthermore, ruins of Bhuddist Civilzation has been found in different


parts of Pakistan, specially at Takht Bai, recognized by UNESCO as world heritage site,
Taxila, Swat, Mingora and Balochistan. Bhuddist sculptures, temples and ruins of great
stupa’s have been unearthed which are great source of attraction for people. Gandhara
region is considered by Buddhist as holy and sacred place same as Muslims consider
Makkah a holy place. Therefore, Pakistan can provide oppurtunity for tourism to people
of Bhudist faith.

Indus and Ghandara civilization were rich in culture, orginated in Pakistan


and spread across the subcontinent. Harrapa, Mohen jo Daro and Taxila have played
important role in cultural development of Indus Valley Civilization. Its richness can be
witnessed in art and culture of diverse groups living in Pakistan. Sindh, Punjab,
Balochistan, Khyberpakhtunkha and Hunza represent unique culture and traditions.
Their languages, art, music, traditions, norms, and values are unique and different in
nature. The World Economic Forum’s Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report placed
Pakistan in the top 25 per cent of global destinations for its World Heritage sites. If
tapped efficienlty, Pakistan can attract tourists for cultural tourism which will send
message of peace and harmony in the world.
In addition to this, Pakistan is full of breathtaking locations and beautiful
scenry. These locations attract millions of tourists within Pakistan and from abroad. The
Northern areas of pakistan are no less than a paradise. It contains waterfalls, colorful
lakes, mesmerizing landscape and breathtaking scenery. Naltar valley & Shangrila
Resort in Gilgit Baltistan, Neelum valley in Azad Kashmir, Deosai plains, Shogran etc are
located in northern parts of Pakistan. Not only this, Sindh and Balochistan also has
beautiful places and potential for tourism. Kirthar mountain range that strechtes from
Sindh to Balochistan has scenic moutains like Gorak Hill, Kutte ji Qabar and Bandu ji
Qabar and other historical places which are source of attraction for many tourists. For
adventure lovers Pakistan provides opportunity for mountineering at K2 and Nanga
Parbat, one of the Earth’s highest moutains. British Backpaker Society ranked Pakistan
as worlds top adventure travel destination in 2018 and described it as most friendliest
country with beautiful mountain scenery. To sum this up, Pakistan is gifted with such
beautiful land which can attract tourists from all over the world can utilize its potential
in tourism for development, economic growth and culture promotioin.

Despite having too much potential in tourism, Pakistan has failed to tap it
efficiently. Foloowing are the issues that bar Pakistan to benefit fully from tourism.

Security issue is one of the main impediment in attracting tourists in


Pakistan. After the events of 9/11 and war on terror, Pakistan has witnessed steep
decline in tourism activities. Pakistan recieved 1.9 million tourists in 2018 as compared
to China and India which attracts 10 to 60 millions tourists annually. Taliban controlled
nothern areas which barred people from visiting destinations. Bomb blasts across
Pakistan and law and order situation made it least safe country and foriegners became
reluctant to visit these beautiful lands. Terrorism gave huge setback to economic and
touristic activities in pakistan. Globally, tourism industry of countries with popular
destinations contribute 10 % to GDP while Pakistan’s tourism industry contribution
remains at 2.7 % to GDP which is indeed very low.

Economic instability handicapped Pakistan in developing infrastructure,


roads and transportation facility leading to touristic destination. Pakistan has faced huge
economic blow in the wake of terrorism and according to an estimates terrorsim has
caused $100 billion loss to economy. Army operations in nothern areas and across
Pakistan helped improve security situation. Therefore, Pakistan is still trying to come out
of economic instability caused by terrorism and consequently could not spend much
money on development and infrastructure of these destinations.

Since war on terrorism, Pakistan had placed restrictions on visa’s for


foriegners owing to law and order situation and security threats. Further the visitors had
to obtain No Objection Certificate (NOC) from Ministry of Interior for visiting different
areas and in some cases they were denied permission. Such measures discouraged
foriegn tourists to visit Pakistan where they know their families will not be safe and
tourism industry witnessed reduction in foriegn visitors. Resultantly, most tourism
activities are carried out by domestic tourists in Pakistan.

Furthermore, poor facilities and services at touristic destination proved to


be one of the biggest obstruction in tapping tourism potential. Undeveloped roads
leading to destinations stopped people from exploring beautiful areas and could only
use 4x4 jeeps on risky roads to reach at some destinations. Lack of hotels and facilities
at destinations made it difficult for the tourists coming from plain and warm areas to
cope and adjust in extreme cold weather. Every year, specially in snow fall, people have
been reported to get stuck owing to malfunctioning of vehicles. Due to these hurdles
touristis avoid visiting such places which lack facilities, comfort and services.
Last but not least, lack of tourism promotion by the Government of
Pakistan is also one of the reasons of decline in tourism. Government negligence and
lack of national tourism policy greatly affects tourism industry. Pakistan has not played
much role in promoting tourism. According to a report Singapore, Malaysia spend
billions of dollars in advertisment for promoting tourism and attracting visitors. It should
be kept in view that it is the responsibility of govenment to lure tourists and such
measures would help Government to boost tourism industry in Pakistan.

Pakistan can draw economic benefits from its tourism industry, if


appropriate measures are taken by the Government. Several countries such as
Singapore, Malaysia, France and America are reapng economic benefits from their
tourism industry. Following are some suggestions if taken seriously may revive tourism
industry in Pakistan.

Pakistan can boost its tourism industry by developing infrastructure,


transport facility and roads leading to different touristic destinations. It will pave the
way for tourists to access the sites more easily. Developed roads will provide tourists
more comfortable and safe journey. Moreover, road clearing and resuce services needs
to be improved. Tourists had to face road blockage for many days due to landsliding and
heavy snow fall. They remain stuck at roads for 2 to 3 days and the same is reported by
the Media, which discourage tourists to visit these locations. Government should install
effective machinery alongwith managment who could resolve such matters efficiently to
avoid inconvinience to tourists.

To add more to it, Pakistan should promote tourism through


advertisement and media. Many countries around the world spend billions of dollars on
advertisement which attracts millions of tourists across the globe and consequently
boost their tourism industry. Pakistan must also do the same to promote tourism.

Furthermore, ease in visa restriction can help Pakistan revive its tourism
industry. Steps taken in this regard, by the Government of Pakistan are comendable
where it extended visa on arrival facility to 50 countries and e-visa facility to 175
countries which will consequently boost tourism in Pakistan.

Last but not least, Pakistan needs to strengthen tourism department by


establishing effecient managment and incorporating effective national tourism policy.
Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation needs to work out effective strategy in
order to give boost to tourism industry in Pakistan. There is dire need to promote public
private partnership in order to create competitve tourism Market. It should regulate
and standarize the quality of facilities and need to monitor these facilities in order to
force hotels to improve and maintain facilities and services.

To conclude with, Pakistan is blessed with four weathers, topography,


scenic nothern areas, religious and historical sites. Pakistan has great potential for
tourism and can reap huge economic benefits. It is estimated that tourism industry will
contribute $950 billion to the economy by 2025. Pakistan can learn from Islamic
countries like Turkey, Malaysia, United Arab Emirates which also developed strategies to
boost thier tourism industry. There is dire need of developing national tourism policy
that may include Kashmir, Gilgit Baltistan alongwith other provices for boosting tourism.
In order to materialize that all state organs including executive, judiciary and
parliaments need to be on single page. Tourism industry will not benefit Pakistan
economically but also socio-culturally.