Pakistan experienced unprecedented floods in 2022 that have resulted in many losses, such as people’s lives, the economy, infrastructure and agriculture. Including many other regions, the Northern areas of Pakistan were also affected by it. Hundreds of houses were destroyed, and the collapse of bridges made many areas inaccessible. However, the impact was not only limited to residential areas but also significantly affected the hospitality industry. It has only been a few years since the revival of the tourism industry in Pakistan, and it is growing at a high rate, but the devastation left by the floods has slowed it down.
The hospitality industry is a source of income for many people, especially in the northern areas. The hotels provide employment to the residents and benefit thousands of tourists throughout the year. Due to floods, many people lost their jobs and source of income as the hotels constructed near the river collapsed. Locals have been rendered jobless while the tourists have nowhere safe to go. In Swat, more than 50 hotels were damaged by the floods, and the losses were around Rs 12 to 15 billion. No compensation from the government has lowered the morals of people.
Moreover, the River Protection Act implemented in the district has stopped the landowners from building structures near the rivers to prevent more tragedies. According to the people, it is unfair to impose this act as they are taxpayers and own the land. Hence, the hoteliers have become victims as they lost their source of income due to floods, the government is not compensating, and the act has stopped them from building infrastructure on their own land.
The government can play an essential role in reviving the hospitality industry as it is one of the fastest-growing sectors in Pakistan, with a lot of potentials. The government must realise the potential and provide funds and support for the hoteliers to start again. Investing in hotels and tourism is important as it can contribute highly to the GDP of Pakistan and attract foreign direct investment. It is unfair for the owners of hotels as they are not allowed to build a structure near the rivers, but they must be compensated for their land since it is their source of income in tourist destinations. Tourists also need good accommodations for their trips; if there are no good quality hotels, the tourism industry will further slow down. However, the landowners must be made aware of the consequences of constructing near the river because the devastation caused by floods results in heavy losses, and at the end of the day, it is them who have to bear the losses, no matter how much the government helps.