American travel blogger Alex Reynolds, who runs the blog Lost With Purpose, was allegedly not allowed to speak at Pakistan Tourism Summit due to the critical nature of her presentation. She was the only one who was singled out for the subject matter and she recently took to Facebook to directly address the issue. This conversation has sparked outrage because she has pointed out several key issues with the execution of the tourism plan, which the local audience has also been trying to highlight for quite some time now.

The first issue was the lack of representation of Pakistan’s own talent pool at the Summit. Local bloggers and vloggers have been travelling for years and documenting different areas of Pakistan but they were neither invited to the Summit nor were they included in the list of influencers due to the inherent need to whitewash everything to make it more acceptable. There is a stark difference between what a security escorted traveler would experience in Pakistan as compared to an independent traveler and the government needs to be wary of passing on such inaccurate information because a single incident can take Pakistan years back.

There is no denying that the streets are not as safe for the people of the country and for the people of colour. The hospitality is limited to people of white colour which we have also witnessed in the government’s own treatment of vloggers of Pakistan. At the same time, the issue of harassment is also very common. This harassment also stems from the law enforcement agencies and many travellers have also complained of being detained against their will without any legal jurisdiction. Such problems need to be identified because Pakistan not just is trying to bring in foreign travellers but a lot of Pakistanis travel within the country as well. The discrepancy between what is being projected and the actual situation will create mistrust. The fact that a foreign blogger is pointing out these differences and is critically observing the situation on behalf of the government shows that the administration needs to assess the situation in a manner which is not only holistic but ensures a true understanding of the situation on the ground. Pakistan needs to boost its tourism industry but that can only happen if the country identifies the problems, and works its way up rather than a fabricated narrative of positivity.