Pakistan is blessed with beautiful and mesmerising landscapes consisting of mountains, glaciers, valleys, rivers, forests, and much more. The blog discusses the tourism potential of Pakistan and why it needs tourist-friendly destinations. The issues and challenges faced will also be presented along with a way forward for future development.
What is the tourism potential of Pakistan?
What are the issues faced due to lack of tourism-friendly destinations?
How can Pakistan revive and maintain tourism-friendly destinations?
Pakistan is blessed with beautiful and mesmerising landscapes consisting of mountains, glaciers, valleys, rivers, forests, and much more. Along with having multiple cultural and world heritage sites, Pakistan also hosts numerous religious sites visited by thousands of devotees every year. The country is experiencing growth in the tourism sector, a massive increase of 317 percent has been witnessed over the last five years, but still, there are gaps in the development of a tourism-friendly infrastructure which ultimately leads to a subpar experience of tourism in the country. The need to develop ‘tourist-friendly’ destinations is increasing due to many reasons such as a depleted infrastructure, unavailability or bad condition of roads and pathways, massive pollution and littering, and weak local tourism and hospitality industry. Therefore, only if Pakistan takes serious steps to develop its tourism infrastructure, can it revive and sustain its tourism industry and uplift its national image on the global level.
Tourism Potential of Pakistan
Pakistan was perceived as a country with massive internal conflicts, external threats, and terrorism, but due to the efforts of successive governments, local bloggers, and influencers, the country has now emerged as one of the top tourist destinations. According to Conde Nast Traveller, a luxury and lifestyle magazine, Pakistan has been ranked as the best international holiday destination in 2020 (The Express Tribune, 2019). Travel and tourism contributed by 5.5 percent to Pakistan’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2019, with a growth rate of 4.7 percent. It not only created a total of 3 million jobs, but it also accounted for $852 million of exports from the country (WTTC, 2019). Apart from these impressive figures, Pakistan is also considered one of the most hospitable countries in the world. With perceptions of Pakistan not being safe for travel slowly changing due to successful efforts of local and foreign influencers, famous mountain peaks, emerald-green and turquoise-blue valleys, deserts filled with remnants of ancient civilisations, and cities bustling with culture, all wait for their true potential to be realised. (Dawn, 2019)
Challenges related to Tourist Destinations
Despite having massive potential for tourism, certain challenges have impeded Pakistan to realise the true potential of its tourism sector. Firstly, the depleted infrastructure surrounding tourism which includes roads, crossings, hospitality services, markets, and logistical services has caused much concern for foreign travellers. These areas require attention as many of the most frequented tourist sites do not have proper hospitality industries established to cater to local and foreign tourists. People are not educated in the hospitality sector and do not know how to properly deal with or handle tourist concerns. This often leads to bad reviews and further damages Pakistan’s image on the global stage. Lack of governmental policies and issues pertaining to security also make the hospitality sector hard to develop. There is a lack of human resource development, as tourism and hospitality are not given priority in the education system. There exist no proper institutions besides a handful few who offer courses on hospitality management. Singapore mandates its students of grade 12 and onwards to study a course in hospitality and retail sales. Moreover, Pakistan hosts multitudes of religious sites which remain unexplored. Religious tourism is a key part of the entire tourist industry of Pakistan. Another significant issue is that of waste and pollution. Pakistan removed civic education from its syllabus in the 1980s, and this has resulted in a generation of people who are not sensitive to issues of social health and environmental preservation. Besides these challenges, tourists in Pakistan can also face unofficial travel restrictions, unclear bureaucratic procedures, security challenges, and cultural sensitivity on a heightened level. Lastly, there is insufficient private sector investment in the sector, and Pakistan is still a ‘developing country’; therefore, these multiple challenges must be faced by establishing tourist-friendly destinations all over Pakistan. (Nizamani, 2021)
How to Develop Tourist-Friendly Destinations
Pakistan can do much to establish tourist-friendly destinations to promote tourism in the country. It can start by incorporating hospitality courses in its curriculum by making it mandatory for all children to study at least one subject related to tourism or hospitality. Pakistan can follow the Singapore model and implement hospitality courses and certificates in its education system. Most of Pakistan’s population is already educated in English and coupled with knowledge of hospitality, the nation can do wonders in promoting Pakistan’s positive image to the world. Another aspect of difficulty faced by tourists wanting to come to Pakistan is the frivolous visa application process. Although the government has provided the ability of e-visas for international travellers, the system is not effective enough. Pakistan should facilitate visa approvals and make it easy to grant visas for potential visitors. Currently, restrictions are placed on tourists before they can travel to different locations in Pakistan. The requirement for a NOC should be removed or at least a list of all the necessary requirements should be made public to relieve much of the stress caused to tourists. Tourism and its success largely depend on the people living in the locality of such destinations. These people are in direct contact with tourists and thus need investment in their infrastructure and education. Roads and public transport often paint a dismal picture in Pakistan with many areas of tourist interest not even having access through paved roads. Those who visit Pakistan often find travel a daunting task as local buses and transport is not managed keeping in mind foreign tourists needs. Local tourism does not face this challenge so much because people are familiar with the system and speak the same language.
Pakistan can make its tourist destinations more friendly by incorporating public transport systems which strictly comply with international standards of safety and travel. This will make travel easier and ultimately increase the capacity of tourists to visit newer places. Local hotels are often cases of shoddy businesses and do not keep the proper health and safety standards. In times of COVID, this takes much more importance and the government should pay attention to standardising restaurants and cafes in tourist localities. This will help the tourists enjoy more and socialise in a better environment that considers their health and safety. Internet is becoming more of a need than a want in modern times. Although Pakistan has a vast telecommunications network, internet facilities are not present at ease and most of the rural areas do not even have fast internet access. Lastly, energy remains a concern for Pakistan as the country faces frequent power outages and is reputed of not having a reliable electric grid. These small matters often reflect heavily on a country’s reputation and become a source of discomfort for tourists. These steps can go a long way in making Pakistan’s tourist destinations tourist-friendly, ultimately uplifting the country’s reputation in the global stage.
Pakistan has massive potential in its tourism industry as the country is blessed with many beautiful and breathtaking landscapes. Despite having these resources, Pakistan’s tourism industry is not performing at its peak potential and can improve by providing tourist-friendly destinations to its visitors. Making any destination tourist-friendly requires attention on many fronts, from providing easy access to the country by easing visa restrictions, accommodating tourists in local travel, educating locals to maintain a hospitable environment, to establishing a well-networked hospitality sector. Steps taken to enhance Pakistan’s credentials in these areas will ultimately boost tourism in Pakistan.
Pakistan is blessed with beautiful and mesmerising landscapes consisting of mountains, glaciers, valleys, rivers, forests, and much more.
The need to develop ‘tourist-friendly’ destinations is increasing due to many reasons such as a depleted infrastructure, unavailability or bad condition of roads and pathways, massive pollution and littering, and weak local tourism and hospitality industry.
Pakistan was perceived as a country with massive internal conflicts, external threats, and terrorism, but due to the efforts of successive governments, local bloggers, and influencers, the country has now emerged as one of the top tourist destinations.
According to Conde Nast Traveller, a luxury and lifestyle magazine, Pakistan has been ranked as the best international holiday destination in 2020.
Travel and tourism contributed by 5.5 percent to Pakistan’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2019 with a growth rate of 4.7 percent.
Tourism created a total of 3 million jobs, and also accounted for $852 million of exports from the country.
People are not educated in the hospitality sector and do not know how to properly deal with or handle tourist concerns.
Lack of governmental policies and issues pertaining to security also make the hospitality sector hard to develop.
There is a lack of human resource development as tourism and hospitality are not given priority in the education system.
There is insufficient private sector investment in the sector and Pakistan is still a ‘developing country.’
Dawn. (2019). Tourism Potential. Retrieved from Dawn: https://www.dawn.com/news/1508316
Nizamani, U. (2021). PAKISTAN’S TOURISM POTENTIAL: CHALLENGES, OPPORTUNITIES AND WAY FORWARD. Retrieved from Geopolitic: https://www.geopolitic.ro/2019/10/pakistans-tourism-potential-challenges-opportunities-way-forward/#sdfootnote7sym
The Express Tribune. (2019). ‘Pakistan is 2020’s top holiday destination’. Retrieved from The Express Tribune : https://tribune.com.pk/story/2117846/pakistan-2020s-top-holiday-destination#:~:text=Pakistan%20has%20been%20ranked%20as,Kate%20Middleton’s%20visit%20this%20year.
WTTC. (2019). Pakistan 2020 Annual Research: Key Highlights. World Travel and Tourism Council.