Pakistan finally appears to be in the spotlight for the all the right reasons for the past one month. It is by no means a coincidence that four major international events have coincided in Pakistan in nearly the same week. The revived confidence of international sports is a testimony of unprecedented scale of sporting events finally taking place in Pakistan with such a consistent streak. On February 09, 2020, Pakistan held a successful skiing events in Malam Jabba. The resort witnessed three major titles which included 3rd Malam Jabba International Alpine Ski Cup, 4th CAS Karakoram International Alpine Ski Cup and 27th National Ski Championship. The chief guest of the skiing competition was none other than President of Pakistan, Dr. Arif Alvi who distributed awards among the winners.

On the same day, Feb 09, 2020, Pakistan resumed a fully jam-packed stands at Kabbadi World Cup 2020 which was held in Lahore. The scale of festivity and interest it has attracted from audience, sponsors and international teams and government speaks volumes of a change at the doorsteps. The Kabbadi World Cup came to a conclusion on February 16, 2020, after a nail-biting final between archrivals Pakistan and India, in which Pakistan defeated India 43 by 41 and claimed its maiden World Cup title.

Few years ago at the cusp of hoping desperately for revival of international sports to culmination of successful concomitant and consecutive sporting events draws a parallel with a return of phoenix from the shadows. Pakistani public have a bit grown tired with being attributed as “resilient”, since, they aspire to see life back with its boom and bloom as a norm.

The return of international test cricket, which witnessed a drought like hiatus of over a decade since 2009 is attracting cross-generational interest from young and old generation. The successive successful tours of Sri Lanka and Bangladesh to Pakistan speaks of growing confidence in Pakistan’s reclaimed capacity to host international sporting events.

The prestigious Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) has also toured Pakistan on a week-long tour from February 13, 2020 is completing a tour in Lahore. The MCC is visiting under the leadership of former Sri Lankan skipper Kumar Sangakara. Pakistan will also hold the first ever 5th Pakistan Super League 2020, with all the cricket matches being hosted across Pakistani venues particularly, Karachi, Lahore, Multan, and Rawalpindi. The league kicks off on February 20, 2020 which will also make an ambitious, but a justified statement that Pakistan is about to become an epicenter of international sporting events.

The much needed revival of sporting events also offers stimulus for revitalizing Hockey’s lost heydays by giving center stage to Pakistan Hockey Super League as well. The hockey league holds the potential to bring up new domestic talent and strengthen a strong base for the sport in Pakistan which for too long has lost touch. It will also attract international players to Pakistan and provide an opportunity to groom new breed of domestic talent.

However, while Pakistan shoots for stars, it needs immaculate management of sports tourism to make sporting events nothing short of a success in their own league. It requires well-strategized marketing campaigns and logistical arrangements and attracting potential sponsors that would be willing to pour in their money for incentivizing sports. Marketers must realize that in order to garner interest and build sponsorship, attractive deals will need to be handed out in these initial years. Such deals can then gradually be up-scaled in money and scope. It also requires building up the capacity of city venues to be capable of hosting both domestic and international audience. It requires synchronized efforts to be able to host and guide visitors to all the right locations for creating virtuous cycle of economy benefitting from sports-tourism. Harnessing technology and undertaking efforts for financial inclusion can help reduce opportunity cost of potential economic transactions between visiting tourists and local vendors. It is also likely to create a further attraction for tourist to flock to Pakistan.

Apart from gaining from security situation in the past couple of years. The government must undertake active capacity building of public through new short courses for benefitting from upcoming surge in sports driven tourism and tourism at large. Moreover, tourist hot-spots ought to be strategically targeted, for creating hassle and hustle free experience for tourists seeking peace of mind and enjoying Pakistan’s heritage and culture. But above all, a sustained effort is needed to create incentives for tourists, sponsors, businesses and public to adopt innovative methods at every step of tourism supply and value chain. After all sports-tourism remains to be one of the corner stones of a new wave of tourism in Pakistan, which for all its promises can’t be treated casually.