Pakistan was ranked the top tourist destination for travellers for the year 2020 by the United States-based luxury and lifestyle publication Condé Nast Traveller.
The tourism sector is playing a crucial role in the country’s economy. In 2018, the contribution of tourism to GDP was 7.1 per cent, bringing billions of dollars and creating new job opportunities within the economy.
From 2014 to 2019, we saw a sharp rise in the number of both local and international tourists. As per a Gallup report in 2019, the tourist footfall for cultural and museum sites increased more than 300 per cent in the last three years.
The foreign tourist traffic rose more than 130 per cent for museums and 100 per cent for cultural sites. Pakistan is uniquely placed to take advantage of this trend. The country is geographically and ethnically diverse and has a number of historical and cultural heritage sites.
Pakistan paradise for tourists
The country is a paradise for both national and international tourists. There is a state-of-the-art ski resort in Malam Jabba, which was built in collaboration with the government of Austria.
For five years, the number of tourists increased mainly in Punjab (Lahore), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit, Chitral, Astore and Hunza. Pakistan offers many historical monuments and landmarks.
It has one of the largest settlements of ancient Indus civilisations, scenic beaches and the highest mountains. It’s a refuge for religious devotees. Its wilderness offers a great escape for nature lovers.
Travellers can experience the historical heritage of one of the oldest civilisations in the world, worship at the rich collection of Sufi shrines, Hindu temples, Sikh gurdawaras and Buddhist monasteries, scale some of the highest mountains in the world, or simply experience natural beauty ranging from blossoming trees against a backdrop of snow-clad peaks in Gilgit-Baltistan to pristine beaches in Gwadar.
The quest to revive tourism
The upsurge in tourism in the past few years has been aided by the Government of Pakistan’s recent decision to end mandatory No Objection Certificates for foreign tourists seeking to visit certain parts of the country.
Indeed it was also a great step by the government to establish the National Tourism Coordination Board to coordinate with provinces, territories and regions.
The tourism industry contributes to Pakistan’s economy through foreign currency inflow, job opportunities and infrastructure. It is a clear fact that previous governments did not bother much boosting the potential of terrorism industry in the country.
They spent a diminutive effort to highlight the positive image of the country to the world and neglected the essential measures needed to improve the tourism sector.
Foreigners, as well as locals, hesitated to visit the breathtaking views and sites of the country, considering it a war-stricken, intolerant, and ultraconservative country.
However, recently, there has been an appreciable improvement in the tourism industry. Enhanced security conditions are perhaps the key reason for the ever-increasing numbers of tourists.
The hope for better economic growth
According to the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report 2017 released by the World Economic Forum, the direct contribution of travel and tourism to Pakistan’s GDP in 2015 was US$328.3 million, constituting 2.8 per cent of the total GDP.
As per the World Travel and Tourism Council, the direct contribution of travel and tourism to Pakistan’s GDP in 2016 was US$7.6 billion (PKR 793.0 billion), constituting 2.7% of the total GDP.
By 2025, the government predicts tourism will contribute ₨1 trillion (US$6.0 billion) to the Pakistani economy.
Comprehensive policies for tourism
In his message on the occasion of World Tourism Day, Prime Minister Imran Khan has said the government would devise an all-inclusive and comprehensive policy for the promotion of tourism in the country so that all allied sectors could benefit from it and the tourism sector could be further strengthened.
PM Imran further said several new destinations have been explored for tourists in rural areas of the country which is expected to strengthen the economic and social status of the local population.
The prime minister said he would like to inform the international community that the people of Pakistan were waiting for the tourists from around the globe anxiously to extend their hospitality for visiting their mountains, deserts, rivers, forests, and coasts.
Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) has been revamped to transform it to get its employees acquainted with the cutting edge technology In order to make Pakistan a known tourist destination.
International Tourism Day
World Tourism Day is being celebrated across the globe on Saturday to foster awareness in the international community regarding the impact of tourism on society.
The day is being celebrated every year under the patronage of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), to foster awareness in the world community regarding the impact of tourism on society, culture and economic growth of a country.
Despite the fact that tourism in Pakistan is on the rise, there are numerous remaining concerns for vacationers that required to be addressed. A better international portrayal of Pakistan is also needed to support its nascent tourism industry.