I would like to shed some light on Pakistan’s domestic tourism industry. After the extensive four-decade battle against terrorism in Pakistan, domestic tourism industry besides other industries restores its breath in a country. Majority countries who declared Pakistan as a terrorist state are now declaring Pakistan as the best holiday destination for 2019. Even Pakistan topped Forbes and Conde Nast Traveller’s list of best holiday destinations for 2020.

The stable security situation, road improvements (extension of KKH and motorways under CPEC project), and intense promotional campaigns at national and international levels (by involving famous vloggers and bloggers and social media activists) contributed constructively to the growth in tourism. However, visit of the royal couple Prince William and Kate Middleton (UK), the maiden visit of the Buddhist Monks, and visit of thousands of Sikh pilgrims to Nankana Sahib birthplace through Kartarpur Corridor on his 550th anniversary attracted the international media attention. After the announcement of online visa facilities, millions of tourists including domestic tourists visited different places of Pakistan. Even Balochistan and Waziristan received special attention of worldwide famous vloggers and bloggers.

Unfortunately by the end of Jan 2020, coronavirus pandemic changed the situation of the entire world. The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has alerted that “the COVID-19 pandemic could lead to a loss of $300-500 billion in tourism receipts globally”. Focus on forced lockdown, staying at home, social distancing, and self-imposed quarantine affected social, economical and educational development poorly and significantly. Tourism is one of the global economic sectors severely affected by coronavirus pandemic. Pakistan’s tourism and transportation sectors are also affected poorly as flights, markets, public places, restaurants and hotels closed, as well as the economic crisis going on especially for poor, daily wagers, or who involved in low salary employments. In major cities, hotels are transformed into quarantine centres for abroad returned Pakistanis with positive cases of COVID-19 whereas mostly restaurants are now doing home delivery or takeaways.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, thousands of international tourists cancelled their reservations and bookings. This has had a negative impact on the tourism community, particularly porters, tour guides, street vendors, - all those who rely on tourist spending are suffering and affecting now. In this pandemic situation, the exact number of affectee/sufferers is uncertain. As an Admin of an active social group, the Karakoram Club, the concerns of all those who are associated with this tourism and affiliated sectors cannot be overlooked, so I thought to share my point of view regarding tourism community.

AHMAD NADEEM,

Islamabad.