Pakistan is a land of beauty with the magic of mountains, Mughal majesty, attractive valleys, historic civilisations and ancient sites.
It has a lot of potential to attract tourists because of its natural beauty and culture. There is the Badshahi mosque in Lahore, Noor Mehal Palace in Bahawalpur, Lahore Fort, residency of Quaid-e-Azam in Balochistan’s Ziarat district and several other spots.
In Sindh, we have the ancient archaeological site of Mohenjo Daro near Larkana and the Lansdowne Bridge, a 19th-century bridge that spans the Indus River between the cities of Sukkur and Rohri.
Karachi, the country’s largest city, is home to the Quaid’s tomb, Mohatta Palace, Frere Hall and several beaches, including the popular Hawke’s Bay.
Khyber Pakhtunkha, known as the land of adventure, has the beautiful valley of Swat, Payee meadows in Shogran, Chitral, Kumrat Valley and Kaghan Valley, while Gilgit-Baltistan is the capital of tourism. Some of its popular destinations are Skardu, Hunza, Nanga Parbat, Fairy Meadows and K2, the second highest mountain in the world.
Tourism is considered to be one of the major sources of economic growth in any country. Every year, millions of people travel across the world to explore new places. France, Spain, United States, China, and United Arab Emirates are some of the most frequented countries by tourists, according to a report published by the World Tourism Organisation.
It says France received 89 million more visitors than any other country. Tourism in Spain contributed 11% to the national GDP. China received 55.6 million visitors in 2014. WTO estimates that China will rank number 1 in tourism by 2020.
The report says Pakistan’s tourism industry earned Rs793 billion in 2016. This was 2.7% of its GDP.
According to a report by the World Economic Forum, the direct contribution of the tourism industry in Pakistan in 2015 was Rs328 million.
The government continues to make efforts to promote tourism in Pakistan and it is predicted that by 2025, tourism will contribute Rs1 trillion to the country’s economy.
But there are many obstacles.
Many people have faced problems in getting a visa. According to a Dawn news report, a small number of 17,823 foreigners travelled to Pakistan on a tourist visa last year. The policies have, however, been relaxed. Pakistan recently extended the visa-on-arrival facility to 50 countries and offered visas to citizens of 175 countries. The government should take more steps to ease the process of travelling for people visiting Pakistan.
Another problem is the limited number of restaurants and hotels in some areas. The government needs to think about where people can stay on their trip to Pakistan.
The poor condition of roads in some places is also a hurdle faced by tourists. Roads often get blocked because of landslides with bare minimum arrangements to evacuate people from an area safely.
The writer is a student at Jinnah University for Women