With the security situation in the country improving by leaps and bounds in recent years, Pakistan’s potential as a tourist hotspot is also gradually being realised. APP reports that tourism in Pakistan has increased by 300 per cent over the last few years, with the Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) confirming that 1.75 million tourists visited the country in 2017. Around 30 per cent of the travelers were domestic.
The tourism sector’s contribution to the overall economy augurs well for the country. As reported by the World Travel and Tourism Council, revenue from tourism contributed around $19.4 billion to the Pakistani economy last year, accounting for 6.9 percent of the gross domestic product. The WTTC expects this figure to rise to $36.1 billion within a decade.
Besides people pouring into the country as tourists, business travelling has also seen a rise as Pakistan’s investment climate has witnessed a sharp improvement.
While the improved security situation has contributed significantly to this superior state of affairs, the fact that various federal and provincial authorities have realised the importance of this sector of the economy, has also played its part in attracting tourists to Pakistan. The various tourist spots dotting the length and breadth of the country have been well publicised, especially through the internet, piquing the curiosity of travellers the world over and encouraging them to make their way to Pakistan.
In this regard, besides the steps taken by various governmental authorities to boost tourism in Pakistan, the efforts of tourists in highlighting their positive experiences in the country have played a significant role in presenting Pakistan as a tourist heaven. Back in December, the British Backpackers Society (BBS), for example, declared Pakistan to be the world’s leading adventure travel destination for 2017. The BBS is an adventure travel project followed by thousands of people online, and their endorsement of Pakistan as a prominent tourist destination made headlines around the world, and no doubt played its part in encouraging more travellers to come to the country and experience all that it has to offer.
Apart from the efforts made towards publicising Pakistan as a tourist-friendly country, the vast improvements made to the tourist infrastructure i.e., building of new roads, rest houses and hotels, as well as the provision of guided tours at several tourist hotspots, have also played their part in contributing to the rise of this sector of the economy.
According to PTDC Managing Director Chaudhry Abdul Ghafoor, the government has been working towards promoting tourism and making the PTDC a financially viable organisation. He told APP that the PTDC and the University of Management and Technology Lahore had recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the sponsorship of the tourism department’s publicity material, including banners, website, seminars and conferences. In addition, there are plans in the offing to promote the various products and services offered by the PTDC through social media.
Another welcome initiative on part of the PTDC is the launch of the Pakistan Tourism Friends Club, whose members will get an exclusive 20 percent discount on the various facilities that the Corporation offers.
It is hoped that both the public and private sectors continue to take novel steps to boost the tourism sector, helping Pakistan on its way to becoming a leading travel destination.