Tourism Policy and International Tourism in Pakistan  

I often question the decline of foreign tourist arrivals in Pakistan as there was a boom in international tourism in the 1980’s. I want to emphasise on the importance of a pro-active international tourism policy, as investment in tourism as an important sector to build, as means to construct a country’s economy and bring peace/happiness to Pakistan.

But Pakistan is not exploring its tourism capacity to encourage international tourists to come to Pakistan. The motive of this discussion is, if with the implementation of a policy, tourism can be revived in Pakistan and curb terrorism by involving locals on the grass root level, by making them aware of the benefits of disposable income that tourists bring with them, by providing them with an atmosphere which would change the mindset of the people by letting them experience other civilizations and cultures and challenge parochialism. It will diminish the ability of terror organizations to recruit manpower on the basis of lack of awareness or exposure to other nations way of living, zero tolerance for foreigners or their habitat or no money to support their families. Targeting such people is the critical resource of these organizations for manpower and building up on tourism to engage locals towards prosperity and coexisting, will cripple them by aiming ‘radicals’.

Since the last 20 years tourist numbers have faltered. The data I have been able to collect from my travels and interviews to explore the reason behind this are security management, implementation of law and order and absence of information provided to travelers. Enhancement of tourism will create jobs, build revenue and promote Pakistan as a healthy destination for tourists. The absence of law and order greatly affects the image of the country with incidents that target foreign tourists, sexual harassment, kidnapping, robbing and mugging, or bomb blasts.

Adopting/working on a policy that would truly accept this task of promoting the tourism sector of Pakistan, by undertaking a study of the current existence of this department and propose empirical changes and adaptations would help improve and make it more beneficial. Various forms of tourism can be explored; there can be religious tourism, as there are shrines of Data Ganj Bakhsh, Lal Shahbaz Qalander and other Sufis and saints. The Nankana Sahab and Gurdwars that are of utmost importance to the Sikh community, Ketas Raj temples that are dear to the Hindus, The Buddhist temples in Taxila- hence if properly planned action and timely implementation of policies each year can add a manifold increase in the number of people that visit Pakistan only from India. Other than that, there can be adventure tourism if one looks at the scenic mountain valleys in the north region. Security, availability of hotel accommodation, infrastructure can encourage tourists to explore that side of Pakistan.

Author: Sana Ahmed

Affiliation: CPPG, FC University, Pakistan.

Sana Ahmed

I enjoy creating and executing communications and media strategies that serve as the foundation for the implementation and adaption of programs focused on positive change.

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Sana Ahmed

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