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Pakistan’s tourism potential

Sher Baz Khetran

By offering myriad employment opportunities and a boost to small businesses, tourism is considered one of the major sources of economic activity for any country. The global tourism industry is valued at $1600 billion and has developed itself as an instrument for creating considerable economic gains. It has also emerged as a major industry for developing and underdeveloped countries.

Robust tourism has a lot to offer to any country. Firstly, it increases gross domestic product (GDP), foreign exchange earnings and government revenue like tax collection. Second, it contributes in the generation of job opportunities for locals and foreigners. Third, there is an increase in average income of the local community and improvement in their living standard. Additionally, an improvement and increase in foreign and local investments in development and infrastructure including but not limited to tourism have also been witnessed.

Many countries like Malaysia, Turkey, Thailand and UAE have improved their economies through the tourism sector. Pakistan is home to various natural tourist spots and religious sites of ancient civilisations, and is therefore, blessed with natural and historic tourist spots. With immense natural beauty, a rich historical background and cultural diversity, Pakistan can become a hub of tourist activity from across the globe given proper infrastructural development, planning and a vision for the tourism industry by the government.

Tourism and culture share great linkages with other industries in the national economy, and are drivers of economic growth. They help in major indirect earnings across different sectors, and also play a part in enhancing foreign and private investments, trade, local development, and public infrastructure. To better understand the role of tourism in economic development, the model of Malaysia, which is considered a hot tourism destination in the world, should be followed. In 1999, Malaysia’s tourism board started a campaign called “Malaysia Truly Asia”, that proved to be a success by bringing in over 7.9 million of tourists into Malaysia. It led to the generation of around RM 12.3 billion in revenue.

Unfortunately, Pakistan lost its appeal for international tourists long ago due to terrorism and uprising of Taliban after 9/11. Even after peace prevailed, there were a number of obstacles hindering the way for the tourism industry in Pakistan. For example, Pakistan’s strict visa policy is one of the major reasons to discourage tourism in the country. The entire industry is also jeopardised in Pakistan through different optics and oversensitivity towards foreigners whether they are from western countries or neighbouring South Asian countries. Moreover, recreational items and free movement are prerequisites for the promotion of tourism. However, in Pakistan, acts like public destruction of confiscated alcohol works as a barrier for foreigners to visit the country. Furthermore, it only depicts the innate hypocrisy of society, where there is a huge difference in theory and practice of the people. Societal malpractices are conducted on a regular basis in society on a large scale.

On the other side, fellow Muslim countries are relaxing their policies to portray a more tourist-friendly image. UAE is the epitome of thriving tourism. They have recently allowed live-in relationships and the availability of alcohol in restaurants. Previously, it was only allowed in hotels and clubs. Saudi Arabia has also started to ease its policy by allowing cinema, theatre, women driving and clubs. Mechanisms should be developed which will address such concerns while keeping cultural and religious sensitivities in mind. Dubai is already the hotbed of thriving tourism and attracts a lot of investment from all over the world, including Pakistan in real-estate due to its tourism and convenient business policies.

Despite having the best tourist’s spots in the world from beaches to mountains, northern areas, vast deserts and oldest civilisations like Mehar Garh in Balochistan and other beautiful scenic locations in KP, Gilgit Baltistan, Sindh and South Punjab, Pakistan has yet to traverse a long road to revive its tourism industry. As a thriving economy, tourism has a lot to offer and Pakistan has a lot to learn in this regard. With optimum allocation of resources in the industry, maximum outputs can be achieved for the country, benefitting both the government and the locals. It is high time for Pakistan to revive its tourism industry by easing its visa policies and by opening up society and accepting the differences of others. It demands a more comprehensive effort on part of the government, civil society and media to help promote the positives of the country and to make it a tourist-friendly destination.

 Pakistan’s tourism potential  Sher Baz Khetran   By offering myriad employment opportunities and a boost to small businesses, tourism is considered one of the major sources of economic activity for any country. The global tourism industry is valued at $1600 billion and has developed itself as an instrument for creating considerable economic gains. It has also emerged as a major industry for developing and underdeveloped countries.  Robust tourism has a lot to offer to any country. Firstly, it increases gross domestic product (GDP), foreign exchange earnings and government revenue like tax collection. Second, it contributes in the generation of job opportunities for locals and foreigners. Third, there is an increase in average income of the local community and improvement in their living standard. Additionally, an improvement and increase in foreign and local investments in development and infrastructure including but not limited to tourism have also been witnessed.  Many countries like Malaysia, Turkey, Thailand and UAE have improved their economies through the tourism sector. Pakistan is home to various natural tourist spots and religious sites of ancient civilisations, and is therefore, blessed with natural and historic tourist spots. With immense natural beauty, a rich historical background and cultural diversity, Pakistan can become a hub of tourist activity from across the globe given proper infrastructural development, planning and a vision for the tourism industry by the government.  Tourism and culture share great linkages with other industries in the national economy, and are drivers of economic growth. They help in major indirect earnings across different sectors, and also play a part in enhancing foreign and private investments, trade, local development, and public infrastructure. To better understand the role of tourism in economic development, the model of Malaysia, which is considered a hot tourism destination in the world, should be followed. In 1999, Malaysia’s tourism board started a campaign called “Malaysia Truly Asia”, that proved to be a success by bringing in over 7.9 million of tourists into Malaysia. It led to the generation of around RM 12.3 billion in revenue.  Unfortunately, Pakistan lost its appeal for international tourists long ago due to terrorism and uprising of Taliban after 9/11. Even after peace prevailed, there were a number of obstacles hindering the way for the tourism industry in Pakistan. For example, Pakistan’s strict visa policy is one of the major reasons to discourage tourism in the country. The entire industry is also jeopardised in Pakistan through different optics and oversensitivity towards foreigners whether they are from western countries or neighbouring South Asian countries. Moreover, recreational items and free movement are prerequisites for the promotion of tourism. However, in Pakistan, acts like public destruction of confiscated alcohol works as a barrier for foreigners to visit the country. Furthermore, it only depicts the innate hypocrisy of society, where there is a huge difference in theory and practice of the people. Societal malpractices are conducted on a regular basis in society on a large scale.  On the other side, fellow Muslim countries are relaxing their policies to portray a more tourist-friendly image. UAE is the epitome of thriving tourism. They have recently allowed live-in relationships and the availability of alcohol in restaurants. Previously, it was only allowed in hotels and clubs. Saudi Arabia has also started to ease its policy by allowing cinema, theatre, women driving and clubs. Mechanisms should be developed which will address such concerns while keeping cultural and religious sensitivities in mind. Dubai is already the hotbed of thriving tourism and attracts a lot of investment from all over the world, including Pakistan in real-estate due to its tourism and convenient business policies.  Despite having the best tourist’s spots in the world from beaches to mountains, northern areas, vast deserts and oldest civilisations like Mehar Garh in Balochistan and other beautiful scenic locations in KP, Gilgit Baltistan, Sindh and South Punjab, Pakistan has yet to traverse a long road to revive its tourism industry. As a thriving economy, tourism has a lot to offer and Pakistan has a lot to learn in this regard. With optimum allocation of resources in the industry, maximum outputs can be achieved for the country, benefitting both the government and the locals. It is high time for Pakistan to revive its tourism industry by easing its visa policies and by opening up society and accepting the differences of others. It demands a more comprehensive effort on part of the government, civil society and media to help promote the positives of the country and to make it a tourist-friendly destination.       Pakistan’s tourism potential  Sher Baz Khetran   By offering myriad employment opportunities and a boost to small businesses, tourism is considered one of the major sources of economic activity for any country. The global tourism industry is valued at $1600 billion and has developed itself as an instrument for creating considerable economic gains. It has also emerged as a major industry for developing and underdeveloped countries.  Robust tourism has a lot to offer to any country. Firstly, it increases gross domestic product (GDP), foreign exchange earnings and government revenue like tax collection. Second, it contributes in the generation of job opportunities for locals and foreigners. Third, there is an increase in average income of the local community and improvement in their living standard. Additionally, an improvement and increase in foreign and local investments in development and infrastructure including but not limited to tourism have also been witnessed.  Many countries like Malaysia, Turkey, Thailand and UAE have improved their economies through the tourism sector. Pakistan is home to various natural tourist spots and religious sites of ancient civilisations, and is therefore, blessed with natural and historic tourist spots. With immense natural beauty, a rich historical background and cultural diversity, Pakistan can become a hub of tourist activity from across the globe given proper infrastructural development, planning and a vision for the tourism industry by the government.  Tourism and culture share great linkages with other industries in the national economy, and are drivers of economic growth. They help in major indirect earnings across different sectors, and also play a part in enhancing foreign and private investments, trade, local development, and public infrastructure. To better understand the role of tourism in economic development, the model of Malaysia, which is considered a hot tourism destination in the world, should be followed. In 1999, Malaysia’s tourism board started a campaign called “Malaysia Truly Asia”, that proved to be a success by bringing in over 7.9 million of tourists into Malaysia. It led to the generation of around RM 12.3 billion in revenue.  Unfortunately, Pakistan lost its appeal for international tourists long ago due to terrorism and uprising of Taliban after 9/11. Even after peace prevailed, there were a number of obstacles hindering the way for the tourism industry in Pakistan. For example, Pakistan’s strict visa policy is one of the major reasons to discourage tourism in the country. The entire industry is also jeopardised in Pakistan through different optics and oversensitivity towards foreigners whether they are from western countries or neighbouring South Asian countries. Moreover, recreational items and free movement are prerequisites for the promotion of tourism. However, in Pakistan, acts like public destruction of confiscated alcohol works as a barrier for foreigners to visit the country. Furthermore, it only depicts the innate hypocrisy of society, where there is a huge difference in theory and practice of the people. Societal malpractices are conducted on a regular basis in society on a large scale.  On the other side, fellow Muslim countries are relaxing their policies to portray a more tourist-friendly image. UAE is the epitome of thriving tourism. They have recently allowed live-in relationships and the availability of alcohol in restaurants. Previously, it was only allowed in hotels and clubs. Saudi Arabia has also started to ease its policy by allowing cinema, theatre, women driving and clubs. Mechanisms should be developed which will address such concerns while keeping cultural and religious sensitivities in mind. Dubai is already the hotbed of thriving tourism and attracts a lot of investment from all over the world, including Pakistan in real-estate due to its tourism and convenient business policies.  Despite having the best tourist’s spots in the world from beaches to mountains, northern areas, vast deserts and oldest civilisations like Mehar Garh in Balochistan and other beautiful scenic locations in KP, Gilgit Baltistan, Sindh and South Punjab, Pakistan has yet to traverse a long road to revive its tourism industry. As a thriving economy, tourism has a lot to offer and Pakistan has a lot to learn in this regard. With optimum allocation of resources in the industry, maximum outputs can be achieved for the country, benefitting both the government and the locals. It is high time for Pakistan to revive its tourism industry by easing its visa policies and by opening up society and accepting the differences of others. It demands a more comprehensive effort on part of the government, civil society and media to help promote the positives of the country and to make it a tourist-friendly destination.     A Better Contract  Pakistan and Qatar signed a 10-year-long LNG supply contract that looks to be much more generous than the previous one. Cheaper supply, a shorter price renegotiation timeframe and the possibility of recovering depleting reserves has been promised to our government. While one may question the timing of this agreement, considering the accelerating global decline in inventories—potentially leading to a high in prices—the competitive advantage it extends to Pakistan is still undeniable.  Our ties with Qatar saw rejuvenation especially after PM Imran Khan’s visit to Doha two years ago, along with the military’s effort in partnering up with the country to facilitate talks between the US and Afghanistan. Now, we are experiencing the fruits of the tireless labour of our authorities. The new LNG contract will not only help Pakistan save $3 billion in the next ten years but it will also give abundant access to this resource, especially since an additional 200 million cubic feet a day has been guaranteed. Furthermore, the fact that we will be able to renegotiate the price after just four years, compared to the previous ten, protects us from any limitations born out of international or domestic economic instability.  Govt, PML-N held ‘positive talks’ over Senate elections: Fawad Chaudhry Given the hardships faced by our local industries, especially when it comes to the provision of gas, a solution was needed immediately. Through this contract, the government will be able to ensure a consistent supply and perhaps at a cheaper rate as well. Additionally, there will also be pressure to fix national infrastructural problems so that certain areas are not robbed of their share of the resource. However, we must also proceed with caution and frugality when spending this LNG supply because global trends dictate that oil and gas prices will continue to rise given that reserves are declining.  Regardless, Pakistan’s agreement with Qatar sets up the future to be quite optimistic, especially if the government is able to create a strategy that couples shoring up gas reserves along with steady provisions perfectly.      The arrest of 17 Indian fishermen by the Pakistan Maritime Security Agency is yet another reminder of a longstanding issue that lies unresolved due to the Indian government’s lack of motivation for peaceful dialogue. The situation has been at an impasse for decades, although Pakistan has tried to resolve it on several occasions.  It is also ironic that Islamabad has been looking to find a way around these arrests that predominantly affect the poor in both countries, since more Indian fisherfolk are apprehended compared to their Pakistani counterparts. Pakistan possesses more resource-rich waters, which poverty-stricken fishermen are often forced to explore by the boat owners they rent their vessels from.  Pakistan has presented many solutions, from resolving the situation on the spot to capturing the boat instead of those that sail them. These lengthy incarcerations destroy entire families through legal formalities. Even those that are eventually released then become targets of their own intelligence agencies in India.  Govt, PML-N held ‘positive talks’ over Senate elections: Fawad Chaudhry The Sir Creek issue and the lack of a clearly settled border also ensures that the problem remains in flux. While the ceasefire is just a small step in the cessation of hostilities, it is also time for Delhi to war up to the idea of discussing outstanding issues, in the interest of preserving human rights.  Whether it is Kashmir or the Exclusive Economic Zones of the two states, it is clear that the countries can continue on the path of confrontation indefinitely, but it is the average citizen who suffers. This is why it is important for India and Pakistan to find peace through dialogue, something that Islamabad is always ready for. Delhi must also see the light.

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