ISLAMABAD – Tourism is the rapidly growing economic segment in Pakistan, and its sustained development needs to be ensured for poverty alleviation and inclusive economic growth.
World Travel and Tourism Council has reported that the tourism sector has added about $8.8 billion to Pakistan’s economy and contributed 2.9% to GDP growth. According to the global Travel and Tourism Index assessment 2022, Pakistan has risen six places from 89 to 83 on a list of 117 countries thanks to a range of measures and policies taken to develop a resilient tourism sector. In turn, tourism has played a decent role in socioeconomic development.
Aftabur Rahman, Managing Director of Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC), told WealthPK that poverty and unsustainable patterns of production in any sector are the key drivers of negative socioeconomic perspectives. “Tourism destinations in Pakistan are mostly less developed areas. Building a world-class tourism infrastructure and ensuring capacity building of the host communities is a must to attract more and more tourists and generate earning opportunities for the people.”
He said that with both opportunities and responsibilities, the tourism sector is transforming into one of the largest economic segments worldwide. “In developing countries like Pakistan, it can bring greater benefits to people for a sustainable livelihood if developed on modern lines.” He called for developing separate strategies according to the physical features and needs of each tourist area. “Capacity building of people concerning different aspects of tourism can make it into a profitable socioeconomic segment. They can be trained as tourist guides, hospitality staff, porters, trekkers, hunting partners, etc.” The PTDC managing director pointed out that developing sustainable tourism is one of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN, saying people should be made aware of different forms of tourism to create a sustainable tourism network.
Meanwhile, a private organisation – Sustainable Tourism Foundation Pakistan (STFP) – has also undertaken different awareness and motivational measures, including publishing bi-monthlies, e-newsletters, quarterly newsletters, holding meetings, focus group discussions, seminars and workshops and using social media to create awareness about sustainable tourism networks.
STFP has also started a membership-based network under the title of Sustainable Tourism Network Pakistan (STNP) to promote the best tourism practices in the country. Discussing the establishment of a sustainable tourism network in Pakistan, Mubarak Hussain, Chief Executive Officer of Karakorum Explorers (Pvt) Ltd, said people living in distant tourist destinations are not only the beneficiaries of tourism outcrop but also act as the representatives of a country in multiple aspects, including culture, values, hospitality and traditions. “If these people are made aware of the values of conservation and also are trained to deal with the tourists professionally, it will help them get proper economic benefits. As people lack arable land for growing crops in the mountainous areas, they mostly depend upon the income generated from tourists visiting their areas. Capacity building of the people in these areas is a must to enable them to generate good incomes for them.”