A seminar was organised by the Embassy of Indonesia, Islamabad titled: Discussion on FAMTRIP, Wonderful Indonesia. The Charge de Affairs and Minister Counsellor Mr. Andi Ahmad Bastari of the Indonesian embassy welcomed the participants and guests before opening the seminar for discussion. The main focus of the seminar was to review the yearly programming organised by the Indonesian Embassy Islamabad called Familiarisation Trip (FAMTRIP) and discuss future prospects of improvement. The government of Indonesia has launched post-Covid-19 initiative called Clean Healthy, Safety Environment (CHSE) to attract tourism and under CHSE it has taken a number of measures to foolproof the infectious diseases as much as it can.  The seminar was attended by entrepreneurs, media fraternity, tourist industry representatives and many FAMTRIP participants apart from the Indonesian embassy diplomats from different sections highlighting their point of view. The participants emphasised on how Indonesian embassy can play a role in boosting tourism in Pakistan, Indonesia being amongst the top 20 tourist favourite countries in the world. The host through the help of multimedia projector and videos clips showcased in length and breadth the implementation of CHSE programme and measures to regain the momentum the pre-Covid level. 

Tourism contributes approximately 1.5 trillion dollars annually to the global economy. Indonesia is a very important player in the tourism world. It is considered as one of the fastest growing tourism economy in South Asia and third fastest growing economy in Asia. At Global Tourism Index, the biggest Muslim populated country in the world stands at number 40 out of 140 countries. So, for Pakistan, Indonesia can be a great potential to learn from and take advantage of the country’s experience in tourism sector, promotion of foreign and domestic tourism, attracting foreign investment in terms of tourism and apply those policies in Pakistan. Guests were informed that Indonesia has set a target to attract 20 million tourists last year from foreign countries and although it was a bar too high to achieve, the country was very close in achieving the target.

Pakistan has just started to open up its tourism sector and is now working on developing a National Tourism Promotional Strategy and also a national tourism brand campaign which will be launched in December. The government of Pakistan is also working  to organise and host  World Tourism Forum convention  next  year inviting  leaders and professionals  from  the tourism industry all over the world  and  representatives  associated  with the  tourism sector. Participants from all over the world are expected to attend this convention in Islamabad and discuss the idea of regional and international tourism.

Speakers while giving suggestions to the audience emphasised on the fact that Indonesia can develop special ties with Pakistan focused on tourism sector as it has rich experience and a flourishing tourism industry. We can start with cross country promotion. Pakistan is focusing on developing its infrastructure and this is just the beginning. Once the roads are built, hotels and health facilities are in place, Pakistan can look for potential investors. At present, the country stands at 136th number on the Tourism Index scale out of 140. Sadly speaking, the potential of tourism in Pakistan has never been explored, not even by the democratically elected governments. Pakistan has world’s highest mountains, deserts, mystifying northern beauty, archaeological sites like Mohenjodaro and Harappa and Taxila, which makes this country a unique experience in term of tourism but sadly speaking, it has never been in the limelight. It can be made an engine for the economic growth if taken seriously. 

Pakistan and Indonesia share common religious beliefs, common values and above average bilateral relations exist between the two friendly countries.  The seminar’s main objective was to highlight the potential and explore areas of mutual interest. The speakers also suggested to form joint working groups of professionals from both countries and discuss where do the bottlenecks lie in promoting tourism and how to remove those bottlenecks between the two countries. Issues related with visas, assess abilities, issues related to facilitations and provisions of basic facilities should be ironed out before promoting tourism so that the goals can be achieved and the objective set in right directions. It was also stressed to learn from Indonesian experience as how to create a huge human resource in the tourism industry, how to attract foreign tourists, and how to develop a solid flawless infrastructure in order to make the tourism as flourishing as Indonesian tourism industry.

Indonesian investors from tourism sectors can play a key role. They should be invited to visit Pakistan and explore means and opportunities in investing in Pakistan tourism.