Globally, tourism is the fastest-growing economic sector and has seen sustained expansion and diversification for decades.
It is still a labor-intensive sector and offers opportunities worldwide for higher employment. The World Tourism Day – which is celebrated on September 27 since 1980 – is an internationally observed day to raise awareness of the impact and role of tourism within the international community.
PTI’s Tourism Policy
Pakistan is a melting pot of culture, cuisine, and people. Its majestic mountains, sprawling valleys, rich cultural heritage, hospitable & friendly people, and fast-improving tourism infrastructure offer some of the best tourism opportunities of the world.
Given its potential, Prime Minister Imran Khan rightfully asserts that Pakistan could become one of the top tourist destinations of the world. In its election manifesto, PTI had put forward an ambitious agenda to promote and position Pakistan as “Asia’s Best Kept Secret” in the global tourism market, and promised to promote religious tourism, the historic Sufi sites across Punjab, Sindh and Baluchistan, and to develop 20 new tourist destinations during its 5-year tenure.
The government has placed the promotion of the tourism industry as one of its top priorities; realizing it has a huge role to play in creating jobs and would enable them to achieve the promise of creating 10 million jobs during their five-year tenure and generate much-needed resources for the national exchequer.
The government pledged to incentivize private sector investments in eco-tourism, open government guest houses and other government buildings to the public, upgrade infrastructure, encourage the creation of jobs across the tourism industry, and ensure enhanced facilities in the issuance of visas, particularly for groups.
The KP government, under the leadership of Senior Minister for Tourism Atif Khan, has made good strides on this path. Given that the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province is home to some of the most scenic natural tourist attractions in Pakistan, the KP government, has focused on enhancing infrastructure and accommodation by initiating water supply scheme for Ayubia, Thandiyani, Khanaspur, and Changla Gali, creating new parks in Ayubia, Khaira and Changla Gali, and establishing camping pods at Changla Gali and Thandiyani. A new tourist spot in Galiyat Samundar Katha Lake near Barra Gali is now open for public.
Last year, the provincial government reaped immense success when it organized a two-day Snow Festival in Malam Jabba in December 2018 – an idyllic scenic hill station in the Hindu Kush mountain range, nearly 40 kilometers from Saidu Sharif in Swat Valley.
This was a remarkable outcome for a resort, which only a decade earlier was a command and control center base for the Pakistani Taliban (TTP) cohorts, who had taken control of Swat valley. Tourism, skiing infrastructure, businesses, and overall public confidence in the future of Swat took a severe beating during this period. In April 2009, Operation Black Thunderstorm (Rah-e-Rast) was initiated by Pakistan army to retake control of the valley. The ensuing fighting saw militants destroying the ski lift, and setting ablaze the hotel at the resort. While the military retook the control of Swat by late 2009, it has taken several more years to restore public and business confidence, and revive the traditional inflow of tourists from all over the country.