ISLAMABAD-The tourism sector is poised to make a comeback on the global arena as the government is planning to roll out multiple initiatives for projecting the true image of Pakistan by adopting modern means of communication. “After successfully suppressing the coronavirus pandemic in the country, our prime focus is on promoting multi-faceted tourism across the globe,” a senior PTDC officer told APP, while sharing the government’s two years performance in the tourism sector.

He said the Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC), the premier tourism body, was gearing up to launch all the initiatives, delayed due to the closure of sector in the wake of coronavirus. The PTDC, he said, had developed ‘Brand Pakistan’ with the help of international experts and would launch it soon to introduce the country as a tourism brand across the globe. Brand Pakistan had three main components, including brand identity development, musical score creation and interactive e-portal, he added.

The officer said an exclusive e-portal would be launched to provide a world class exposure to Pakistan’s tourist attractions through one click. “The portal will consist of a user-friendly interface to interact with the prospective tourists and provide them online connectivity to view Pakistan’s tourist sites through virtual galleries, videos and documentaries, and avail the various available services.” He said the development of National Tourism Strategy (2020-2030) was in final stages. It was meant to develop a harmonising framework for the tourism sector, after taking all the stakeholders on board. It would focus on four key areas, including good governance, tourism demand and supply, jobs creation and enabling growth. He said the country was also preparing to host the ‘World Tourism Forum’ next year to showcase the country’s tourism potential, attract investment and build Pakistan into an international brand. “The participation of over 1,000 foreign visitors, including investors, companies, tourists and holiday makers is expected.” Highlighting the tourism promotion steps taken by the government in last two years, he said prior to the COVID-19, the government undertook multiple initiatives at policy level, formed authorities at the Federal level to boost coordination among federating units and opened up the country by easing the visa process to revive the sector once lurching from crisis to crisis due to slackness of the previous governments.

He said the government constituted the National Tourism Coordination Board (NTCB) with representation from all the provinces and stakeholders. Nine working groups were formed to assist the NTCB, with each group assigned a specific thematic area such as ‘Policy and Regulatory Reforms’, ‘Eco Tourism’, ‘Culture and Heritage Tourism’ and ‘Religious Tourism Working Group’. The board was responsible for coordination between federal, provincial and regional tourism organizations / departments, along with international tourism bodies for promoting the country’s tourism. The officer said the PTDC restructuring had been completed to transform it into a progressive, efficient and technology savvy organization. It would enable the PTDC to fulfil the assigned roles and responsibilities in a befitting manner that included tourism promotion, marketing, research and analysis, monitoring and evaluation, and coordination at national and international level. He said the government had relaxed its visa policy for boosting influx of foreign tourists to the country. The officer said e-visa facility was being provided to over 170 countries, whereas visa on arrival to citizens of 50 countries. So far around 120,000 international visitors had utilising those services for obtaining Pakistani visa, he added. He said the Tourism Development Endowment Fund with the seed money of Rs1 billion had been established after receiving concurrence from all the stakeholders. The fund would be utilising to promote tourism potential of Pakistan. It would also aid the tourism industry in matters related to hospitality services, standards and certifications, research and analysis and centralising tourism database, he added.