TOURISM IN PAKISTAN
Tourism and travel has great association with other industries in the country making major contributions to the economy and also acts as a source of foreign investment, opportunities of trade, local development, investments in private sectors, and government infrastructure. The very rich potential of tourism in Pakistan due to its rich culture, biological and geographical diversity, and history.
Tourism in Pakistan has developed as an instrument for creating considerable economic gains. Our country has world-famous tourist destinations at Malam Jabba, Kalam, Swat, Shangla, Balakot, Kaghan, Naran, Murree, Chitral, Gilgit Baltistan, Hunza, Neelam valley, and other historical and archaeological sites.
Pakistan has offered diverse opportunities for tourists, such as Shandur Polo traditional tournament, fishing in the glacial water of Gilgit Baltistan and Swat rivers, rock climbing, paragliding, and trekking in Northern areas, Wild Boar hunting and jeep and camel safari in the Cholistan desert.
In this globalization era, third world nations started tourism to improve their economy, promote peace, develop human resources, and reduce the poverty level. Tourism provides employment opportunities and improves local earnings, which can be of major economic significance to the local population. In terms of employment, the local community could expand their earnings and socio-economic condition, which could lead to an overall improved standard of living.
Like many other developing countries, Pakistan is seeking to revitalize its tourism sector, including nature tourism by expanding the system of national parks and reserves. Pakistan has a number of national parks, nature reserves, and wildlife sanctuaries in different parts of the country. Despite the limited number of national parks and reserves, their management is far from satisfactory.
This is partly because of insufficient government funds and open access of visitors to these places. International tourism in Pakistan has achieved record growth. The number of tourists has reached 808,000 from all tourist producing market places. This figure is a 24.4% rise from the previous two years. According to the report, in 2017, 1.75 million visitors traveled to Pakistan. The Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) confirmed that 30% of tourists were national (domestic) and almost 90% of the tourists preferred to journey by road; only 8.5% and 1.8% traveled by train and air, respectively.
At the moment, entry to national parks in Pakistan is almost free. However, revenue can be generated by introducing entry fees that could be spent on the improvement of the quality of the parks. There is a need for a thorough investigation of how these parks can be well managed and how these environmental resources can be valued.
Tourism has the potential to play a vital role in Pakistan’s economy due to the majestic landscape and the variation of cultures within the country. However, due to a lack of proper infrastructure in certain areas, Pakistan still faces major setbacks. Otherwise, according to some international companies, Pakistan’s tourism industry has the potential to reach some $10 billion annually.
Some tourist corporations have started working and encouraged the government to attract tourists to Pakistan by working on several projects in the tourist market like building and maintenance of road and air networks. The maturation of human and natural resources can also contribute to the development of the growing industry.
It is vitally important to develop a national tourism policy that integrates all the provinces, including Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir. In order to create an enabling environment, the government should promote public-private partnerships for a competitive tourism market. The establishment of a tourism board should include public, private, and foreign partners.
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by: Abeer Arshad