Renowned tourist spots in Pakistan wore a deserted look some time ago owing to a poor law and order situation in the country due to the menace of terrorism. In the past couple of years though, the scenic valleys, eerily quiet deserts and historical buildings seem to have ditched the ghosts of the past to welcome tourists to once again tread on the paths less travelled. According to statistics shared by Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC), around 50 million tourists will travel around Pakistan on weekend trips this year.
Once again Pakistan’s tourism industry is taking a flight, only this time the country is looking to sustain a steady flow of local and foreign tourists.
Change Starts from Home
Industry experts share the opinion that the trend of local tourism in Pakistan is currently witnessing a boom which is likely to continue into the future as well. This trend has benefitted other sectors of the economy as well, including the real estate sector and small businesses.
In terms of the Pakistani real estate sector, improving law and order situation has bettered the value of pieces of land in the country. This trend has especially given confidence to people to rent out their spaces to tourists during peak tourism season in tourist spots. This way they can earn a respectable income while also improving the value of their property.
According to Zameen.com, the value of properties in Pakistan has risen by 118 percent in the last five years, corresponding with the rise of tourism industry in the country.
Coming back to the PTDC report, it is very clear that the number of local tourists will keep increasing as all areas of Pakistan are purged of violent anti-state elements. With these changes, local travelers and adventurers are breaking out of their shell to embrace a new age of tourism industry in the country that promises to give them the best value for their money.
Pakistan offers a unique variety of tourism that includes nature travel, adventure travel, cultural and heritage tourism and religious tourism from the many available options. The country is especially known worldwide for being the cradle of religious orders that include Buddhism and Sikhism.
Still, the trend of attracting foreign tourists to the country depends on the passion for travel among the local population. As more and more Pakistanis make it a point to travel to all corners of the country and promote their journeys online, there is a great chance that this trend will also encourage foreigners to visit Pakistan. So, in order to promote tourism in Pakistan, locals will have to take the initiative and become ambassadors for the tourism industry.
Hot Tourist Spots and Official Incentives
Pakistan is blessed with some of the most pristine and historically significant tourist spots that are unique to the world. For instance, Gandhara civilization represents an era that nurtured Buddhism in Asia.
We have the aesthetically pleasing architecture of Mughal era that stands tall in spite of modern day installations.
The country also boasts of a large inventory of Greco-Buddhist art.
In addition, Pakistan has been equally blessed with natural wonders in form of some of the world’s highest mountains, including the Hindu Kush, Pamir, Karakorum, and the Himalayas. The country also holds the distinction of having five peaks above 8,000 metres each, including the second highest peak in the world, K-2.
Moreover, to promote local tourism among the young generation of Pakistan, the PTDC has taken an initiative to help achieve its targets. The PTDC in collaboration with University of Management and Technology, Lahore has launched “Pakistan Tourism Friends Club”. Members of the club can avail almost 20 percent of discount on stay at all PTDC motels throughout the country.
According to PTDC Policy and Promotion Manager, more than one million tourists visit the northern areas of the country during a season. The numbers include both local and foreign tourists.
Proposals for Further Improving Tourist Numbers in Pakistan
It goes without saying that Pakistan holds immense tourism potential and it can immensely benefit from a growing tourist footfall if it manages to work on certain aspects of this promising industry.
Pakistan failed to attract a lot of tourists in the past decade because of the usual suspects – terrorism and the resultant economic strife. Other than this, the local tourism industry has also suffered a bit due to official apathy of the officials concerned. An example follows.
In Pakistan, all official tourism sites, national and provincial, are unorganized at best. The ordeal is especially testing for foreign tourists interested in traveling to the country on a sightseeing trip. The Pakistani government would do well by making amendments to the tourism websites and make them more interactive and easy-to-use for everyone.
With all its shortcomings, Pakistan still manages to welcome foreign tourists numbering in thousands each year. For now a vast majority of them belong to Asian countries and steps are needed to be taken to encourage people in the West. By tweaking the tourism system a bit here and there, Pakistan can realize the immense potential that its tourism sector holds.