Tourism industry of Pakistan

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Without any doubt, Pakistan is one of the richest countries when it comes to tourist attractions. Apart from its natural and scenic beauty, it is also rich in historic sites like Lahore fort, Taxila, and Harappa civilization. British black paper society predicted Pakistan to be one of the world’s top adventure travel destinations. There is more inflow of domestic tourism than foreign tourism in Pakistan. According to a report in 2014, out of 1133 million tourists 0.956 million visited Pakistan. The tourism sector can act as a great source to increase the economy in Pakistan. With a high rate of tourism, there will be more activity in the sectors of hotel, trade, and transport, etc. moreover, it will strengthen the government’s position as they will receive more revenue generated from direct and indirect taxes. According to the tourism index developed by the world economic forum, Pakistan is ranked 125 out of 140 countries. All the indicators show that Pakistan lags in the tourism sector.

There are several issues associated with the governance and management of Pakistan’s tourism industry. Over the years we have seen constant negligence at the government’s end. They have never prioritized the tourism sector. However, certain organizations are working for the tourism industry under the government. PTDC serves as the government’s right hand to administer tourism. They have hotels in most of the tourist places. They also provide transportation as well as tour guides. Moreover, the funding provided by the government is not enough to run it smoothly. Further, other organizations are working at the provincial level to boost tourism. Among them are TDCP, STDC, TCKP, etc. Unfortunately, most of them are incompetent in dealing with tourism. They lack coordination.

In addition to the governance issues associated with the tourism industry, certain key challenges can’t be ignored. First of all, there are security concerns that make foreigners reluctant to visit Pakistan. Overall portrays a very negative image of Pakistan all around the globe. Secondly, as mentioned before, the government has never been much serious about tourism. They have allocated a very low budget to this industry. Thus, neglect on the part of the government is a serious challenge to the industry. Then the process of acquiring a visit visa is very tiring which makes it more difficult for foreigners. Furthermore, the accommodation facility is not everywhere. People who want to travel to the north face problems with accommodation. The interdepartmental lack of coordination further deteriorates the situation. The poor condition of infrastructure makes it harder for the tourist industry to flourish. Then there is no proper check and balance on these areas. The locals exploit the tourists by charging them extra money. All these factors greatly contribute to the toppling tourism industry.

As mentioned the governments in Pakistan have never been serious about the tourism industry. However, the recent government has shown some seriousness towards this grave issue. With the shift in government, tourism policies also took a sharp turn. Unlike the previous governments, Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf placed tourism as one of the top priorities. Therefore, the government launched a series of policies to uplift the long-neglected tourism sector. First of all, Pakistan is to host a world tourism forum. It is a huge event to boost the tourism industry in Pakistan. The government has allocated 1 billion rupees to develop tourism. Then there was a revised visa policy which made it easy for foreigners to visit Pakistan. Almost 2.5 million people visited Pakistan because of this policy.

The government collaborated with the World Bank as donors to launch several schemes. A tourism summit was organized in Islamabad and a single tourist visa is to be given to all the CAREC member states. Moreover, after giving the facility of e-visa there has been a drastic increase in the tourists. The government has also opened 169 guest houses for the general public to visit. In KPK specifically, they have opened parks and initiated water supply schemes for the respective areas. They are also working on infrastructure e.g. building the swat expressway and rebuilding the jeep tracks. Furthermore, they are auctioning 23 tourist sites for cabins.  They are trying to boost the local market by making it more accessible. The government has also paved the way for religious tourism by opening the Kartar Pura corridor. They are also planning on preserving the Buddhist sites to attract monks and other tourists. Therefore, all these initiatives will greatly contribute to the restoration of the tourism industry and further elevate the economy of Pakistan.

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