Articles of the year 2005

Tourism in Pakistan

Pakistan has never really considered the size of the tourist industry and its effect on the economy of a country.Britain is the fifth most popular tourist destination, tourism accounts for GBP 25 billion annually and is growing by 3% each year.France, with a population of 55 million, had 70 million plus visitors last year, more than 1 visitor for each and every inhabitant.The same is the case in Spain, which had 60 million tourists in 1996, whereas their population is only 39 million. The tourism industry in Italy is greater that their entire industrial and Commercial output combined.

Dubai, during the shopping festival from 15th February, 1996 to 28th March 1996, had 1.6 million visitors in just 6 weeks spending Dhs. 2.65 million (USD 750 million).

Their expenditure to date is close to $25 Million, over a period of seven years. They have succeeded in putting Dubai on the map world of tourism, We have to realize that we have neither $25 Million, nor seven years.

India generated USD 2.75 billion in 1995 on tourism, India has also been able to successfully market POVERTY for the tourist. The latest attraction is the 2 week stay in an Ashram.

The Arabs on the other hand have been able to MARKET SAND by arranging Desert Tours for tourist. Pakistan's share of tourist arrivals in this region was 13.4% of the total arrivals, which were 3.15 million. According to World Tourism Organization (WTO), Pakistan captured only 7.5% of the total USD 2,094 million generated in 1990 by this region.

Pakistan's tourism earnings as compared to its exports: - 1989-90 - 8th position - 3.2% of overall exports.

1985-86 - 5th position - 6.91% of overall exports.

1982-83 - 5th position - 6.91% of overall exports.

Tourism as an Industry Tourism is the fastest growing sector of the world's economy, however, tourism in Pakistan is negligible to the point of being non-existent. We have such a beautiful coast line with no resorts. Our neighbour like India, Sri Lanka, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, etc. are constantly building resorts. The cities of Lahore and Peshawar, again, are not being actively promoted.

The tourism industry in Pakistan is considered to be a punishment post for government officers and this has lead to a natural gathering of the inept, leading to further downgrading of the department. Pakistan International Airlines' entire focus is on labor traffic to and from the Middle East, even for USA/Europe, they concentrate on the ethnic movement of Pakistani expatriates.

Pakistan's are a very hospitable people and yet there is a perception in the western mind that we are barbaric. This has been promoted by the anti-Pakistan lobby and our successive governments have done nothing to counteract this thrust. It is only when the tourist comes to visit Pakistan and recognizes the warmth of the people does he carry back with him this information, which he spreads to his people. Visitors are shocked (known in some quarters as the PAKISTAN SHOCK) to note that in actual fact Pakistani's are warm, friendly, hospitable people, and not a bunch of armed terrorist as portrayed by the Western media.

Tourist Forecasts The WTO has forecasts the following:-

1. 702 million international arrivals in the year 2000

2. Over a billion in the year 2010

3. 1.6 billion international arrivals by the year 2020 – (nearly three times the number of international trips made in 1996 which was 592 million).

Tourism in Pakistan can be divided as follows:-

Cultural, festival, shopping, adventure etc. Cultural / festival - horse can cattle show, Lok Virsa festival, Basant, camel festival, polo festival, Cricket festival, Sufi tours in Multan, folk dances, folk tales, palace tours.

Adventure - mountaineering, trekking, helicopter safari, hunting.

Shopping - shopping festivals Miscellaneous - religious tours, visits to archaeological sites e.g.

Mohenjodaro, Texila etc.

All the above exist, complete with infrastructure … only extensive marketing is required.

Tourist Description

Presently, foreigners visiting Pakistan are mainly immigrants visiting their families, business people, students etc.

We should target tourist from Northern Europe who seek sunshine, Pakistan has ideal tourist weather, especially from November to February and a rich cultural heritage for them to enjoy, as well as never to be forgotten scenic spots of the Northern Areas. Pakistan tour operators should be able to coordinate with their European counterparts as that Pakistan can be included as a destination in their itinerary.

Also, there is great potential in Japanese tourist who can charter flights from Tokyo straight to Islamabad for religious tours of Buddhist sites in the Northern Areas.

Promotion of tourism in Pakistan The year 1999 was declared "Visit Pakistan Year", But unfortunately nothing happened, 1. The fastest way would be to invite major tour operators, media, top journalists, academics and western firm stars to Pakistan from Europe and have elaborate arrangements in the major cities where they can see for themselves that the cities are not swarming with gunmen. They should be given the red carpet treatment and invited on a regular basis as they will generate good press of us.

Mrs. Marcos successfully achieved the above in Manila by building a cultural complex where top ballet performers like Rudolph Nuryev and Margot Fonteyn and international orchestras were invited. Mrs. Marcos was successful, as much as one million tourist visited Philippines in 1979, generating over USD 2 billion for tourism.

2. The law and order problem in Karachi is normal for a city of this size and the areas for the tourist are certainly not dangerous if one compares it to the streets of New York or the East of London.

3. The best attraction of Pakistan is the hospitality of the people, which they themselves promote to the tourist.

4. Thailand is another country which has developed its tourism industry. Although Pakistan does not offer alcohol etc. to the tourist, we have a rich cultural and traditional heritage which can be hi-lighted when promoting tourism.

5. Tourist festivals should be organized in Karachi.

6. The Fort in Cholistan should be lit up and coach rides made available to and from the fort Competitors and Pakistan's comparative advantage

7. Pakistan's main competitors are Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Philippines and India. However, Pakistan has much more to offer the tourist in terms of sunshine, warm, friendly people, scenic beauty, rich cultural heritage etc.

8. Pakistan also has a comparative advantage in terms of natural unspoiled panoramic areas conducive to tourism, which are not being exploited due to the indifferent attitude of the government, lack of public investment and shortage of funds.

9. Pakistan being closer to the European countries also enjoys a geographical adventure over her South Asian counterparts.