Pakistan needs to fully exploit tourism potential
LAHORE : Welcoming the government’s timely judicious decision of allowing tourists from 175 countries to visit the country with visa on arrival, SAARC CCI Senior Vice President (SVP) Iftikhar Ali Malik Friday said still Pakistan needs to take more concrete steps for marketing itself as a tourism destination as it is endowed with world’s best captivating beautiful landscapes and other bewitches attractions. In a press statement issued here today, he said the tourism industry of Pakistan has the potential to turn the country into a hub of economic activity as the total contribution of the industry in the global economy is more than $7.58 trillion. He said the direct contribution of tourism to Pakistan’s total GDP was 2.8 percent, amounting to the value of US$ 328.3 million which will hike up to US$9.5 billion by 2025. “It is such an untapped potential of Pakistan which, if harnessed intelligently, can increase Pakistan’s rank from 124 to double digits in terms of foreign tourists that visit the country,” he added.
He further said Prime Minister Imran Khan has recently taken immense interest in promoting tourism industry that will not only help boost the economy but generate positive perceptions about the country at global level; however, he said Pakistan and other South Asian countries should resolve outstanding issues among the member countries to boost tourism in the region.
He said SAARC should focus on promoting intra-regional tourism by utilizing common resources, shared culture and common physical infrastructures. He said that despite several initiatives taken by leadership on SAARC CCI platform, tourism’s contribution to regional national economies, in terms of employment generation, foreign exchange earnings and national revenue, has remained minimal.
He urged the government to facilitate business community especially those involved in tourism sector for holding a series of regional conferences where participants from all the SAARC countries and other regions will be briefed about the tourism potential of Pakistan. “The lack of connectivity and information sharing among the countries of South Asia, which hinders the development of tourism sector in the region, will be addressed by encouraging regional tourism among the countries,” he added.
Iftikhar Malik said that the countries in the region have developed individually but the region as a whole still remains behind. He added that South Asia can improve by working together which will help the employment sector in large.
He said Pakistan has been ranked the world’s top travel destination for 2018 by the British Backpacker Society. No doubt it described Pakistan as “one of the friendliest countries on earth, with mountain scenery that is beyond anyone’s wildest imagination”. He said strategic investments in inbound tourism growth can deliver a higher standard of living for residents in the said economies, create greater financial inclusion and jump-start economic development.