Revival of Tourism in Pakistan
By Shaikh Moazzam Khan
By Shaikh Moazzam Khan
The concept of soft power is pivotal in the current geo-strategic environment of the world. Every country of the world is working tirelessly to enhance its existential potential in the sector of tourism and cultural diplomacy. In recent past British broadcast BBC News published an opinion article in which it was stated that tourism is contributing immensely to overall GDP of the states. The revenue capacity of various states has increased to maximum extent with the expansion in tourism industry. There are so many states in the world who are totally relying on tourism to increase their revenues. Nepal, Sri Lanka, Qatar, Dubai, Central Asian states and many others. The tourism potential helped these states to improve not only their GDP but soft image as well. Even Saudi Arabia has allowed tourist visas for foreigners who wants to visit the Kingdom.
Pakistan is also one of those countries who are working tirelessly to improve their tourism sector. The country is discovering various areas and sites to open for general public for the purpose of tourism. For the first time in the country’s history, Prime Minister Imran Khan has directed its cabinet members to make tourism policy to improve the image of the country. Due to the war against terrorism, Pakistan’s tourism sector suffered immensely, which resulted in losing billions of rupees. Unfortunately, successive governments in Pakistan neglected this important sector for longer period of time. But, with the arrival of PM Imran in the power corridors in Pakistan, he sought help from country’s armed forces to work for the security of foreigners who are coming to Pakistan as a tourist.
In response to government’s request, Pakistan Army and other law enforcement agencies are working shoulder to shoulder with the government to further facilitate tourists and improve overall security situation of the country. PM Imran Khan also directed government officials to open states guest houses for general public so that national exchequer may get handsome amount in the shape of revenue. The premier wants all government places to be opened for general public, which are reserved for VVIPs. The government house in Murree, Governor House KPK and many other state guest houses are the practical examples of government’s intentions to revive the tourism industry.
Apart from the opening of government places for tourists, government of Pakistan is mulling to introduce more places especially in KPK and Baluchistan for the purpose of tourism. In this regard, PM Imran Khan urged provincial governments develop infrastructure and facilitate more people. KPK province is one of those provinces who is working hard to launch more tourist sites in the province. The provincial government of KPK built Swat motorway which is gateway to the Kalam and Kumrat valley. With the opening of Swat motorway, the tourism in Swat and other surrounding areas is likely to enhance. In a bid to boost tourism in the province, KPK government has selected 20 spots which will be immediately developed as tourist destinations. Kalam, Swat, Malam Jabba, Ayubia, Nathia Gali Governor House and various sites are prominent in newly spotted areas. The provincial government has also opened Qilla Bala Hisar in Peshawar for general public.
Similarly, government of Baluchistan is working for the development of tourism sector in the province. The provincial government is working in various areas to improve the infrastructure and security situation. The government has recently built Gawar Marine Road in Gawadar district, which is likely to attract foreigners and investment. The mineral rich Baluchistan has a side that trumps its resourcefulness; that side is astonishing and mind-boggling. CM of Baluchistan directed his government to develop tourist spots such as Hanna Lake in Quetta, Quaid e Azam residency Ziarat, Hangol national park and Kund Malir beach. These sites will contribute hugely to the provincial revenue of the province.
Provincial governments of Baluchistan and KP have also set up a commission to create tourism zone in the province. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government cleared a $127-million project to improve tourism in KPK last year. The government is also working with international organizations to improve the tourism sector of the province.
One should not forget here that the concept of soft-power is gateway to the national integration and promotion of the soft image of the country. As I said, countries are using this concept to garner maximum attention of the tourists and other related organizations. There is need for Pakistan to work more on the promotion on the concept of soft-power. The central government must incorporate with provincial governments while making any policy related to tourism. This will boost the revival of tourism in the country as Pakistan has huge potential in this sector. The country’s northern areas are god gifted and one of the most beautiful places on the earth. Provincial government of Gilgit Baltistan must mobilize the people to promote the tourism in the region. This will work for the enhancement of GB’s tourism.