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Founding Editor: Shafqat Munir   

Do not consider ‘terrorists’ as ‘tourists’ and ‘tourists’ as ‘terrorists’: 

16 Julie 2011 02:21:08

Do not consider ‘terrorists’ as ‘tourists’ and ‘tourists’ as ‘terrorists’:

Provinces should build tourism infrastructure, federal Govt market it

It is not deteriorating law and order situation and growing incidents of terrorism alone that plunged Pakistan’s tourism industry deep down into losses worth millions of dollars every year.

Continued decades of violence in Sri Lanka, bombing at Bali (Indonesia) and Egypt’s resorts, did not cause any decline in tourism revenue in these countries as their respective governments marketed their tourism potential well and assured the tourists of the best services available there. But unfortunately, we are a rigid visa regime that literally bars tourists to come to Pakistan and there is no aggressive marketing strategy, said a leading mountaineer of Pakistan Mr. Ashraf Amman, in an interview.

“I have a lot of friends who want to come to Pakistan for tourism and mountaineering, especially fro France. But they have been denied Pakistan visa. It seems that the authorities in Pakistan consider ‘tourists’ as ‘terrorists’ while unfortunately the ‘terrorists’ enjoy here as ‘tourists’, said Mr. Ashraf Amman, who had climbed K-2 and is a promoter of Pakistan’s soft image and tourism potential.

Pakistan presently ranks very low in terms of world tourism income. Out of global tourism income of $ 514 billion, the share of South Asia is $ 5.4 billion including Pakistan's share of only $ 135 million i.e. 0.03 per cent of global and 2.5 per cent of South Asian share. Out of the total tourists arrivals in the world estimated at 694 million per year, Pakistan receives only 0.5 million tourists annually, a very low figure. Even among South Asian countries, the tourist arrival in Pakistan is very low. Tourism is a market-driven industry today. Due to the lack of a marketing strategy and funds, Pakistan has little or no influence in the international marketplace.

Despite the bloody Civil War in Sri Lankan which persisted for nearly 25 years within their own country's insurgent the Tamil Tigers and there were few other rebel groups, a separatist militant which wreck havoc in the country but it did not affect their Tourism department while it was flourishing with high pace and it is reportedly said that Sri Lanka’s present income earned from tourism is 400 million U.S dollars annually as compare to Pakistan which is only $ 135 million.

Despite bomb blasts in Bali, a holiday resort of Indonesia, tourism still has a prominent place in the country’s economy and Bali still is a fantastic tourist destination and is renowned for its highly developed arts, including traditional and modern dance, sculpture, painting, leather, metalworking, and music.

In 2009, the number of international tourists arriving in Indonesia climbed 3.6% to 6.45 million. The subsequent economical impact of this tourist influx in 2009 saw $6.3 billion spent by international tourists in Indonesia; at an average spend of US$129.57 per day and US$995.93 per visit.

Egyptian tourist resort Sherm ul Sheikh blasts rocked the world but it did not exerted any impact on the influx of tourists coming to enjoy holidays at this uniquely marketed tourist resort. More than 12.8 million tourists visited Egypt in 2008, providing revenues of nearly $11 billion. The sector employs about 12 percent of Egypt’s workforce.

The encouraging situation for tourism in Sri Lanka, Egypt and Indonesia draws a lesion for Pakistan and after the 18th amendment is the constitution, the provincial governments and Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan governments should build and improve tourism infrastructure and the federal government should market it in the international tourism market. Pakistan’s missions abroad and Pakistani media should market Pakistan’s soft image and tourism potential.