By Naveel Ahmed
ISLAMABAD, Jan 31 (APP):Perception about Pakistan is gradually changing around the world and there are many reasons to believe that a wonderful future for its tourism beckons. But, the onus of marketing its treasure trove of leisure and pleasure lies upon the government, travel groups and digital media influencers.
A major reason behind the transformation in Pakistan’s image was sacrifices of our soldiers, which they rendered in the war against terror as well as the goodwill created by the world’s leading journals and bag packers in the last couple of years.
Its journey for image transformation started in 2018 when an American business magazine—Forbes included Pakistan among the ten ‘Coolest Places’ to go in 2019, which was followed by the visit of Britain’s Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Kate Middleton to the country.
The image starts to alter beyond all recognition after British Backpacker Society and Condé Nast Traveler also joined the bandwagon to declare the country as the number one tourist destination for 2020.
The trend remains unchanged even in the current year as now the New York Times added the historic walled city of Lahore in its list of 52 dream destinations.
So, hopes are high in Pakistan that the future of tourism is bright and full of opportunity, but it is being linked with the holistic promotion of its tourism, encompassing leisure, religious, adventure, coastal and others, at international level through extensive use of digital media.
“Since major spots are not receiving the tourist influx as same as before the coronavirus times, it is a golden opportunity for the federal and provincial tourism departments to give more focus on capturing digital market as now it plays a crucial role in helping the tourists deciding travel list,” said Qamar Abbas, a tourism expert with 30 years of experience in the hospitality sector.
Qamar Abbas, who is also a member of National Tourism Coordination Board, said the world had changed and now people preferred to make up their travel lists after taking a stroll to social media networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Pakistan Association of Tourism Operators President Maqsoodul Mulk told APP that the country could achieve tremendous revenue goals in tourism if known professionals and experts were appointed to all formations of the industry for establishing a robust communication infrastructure.
Meanwhile, the premier tourism agency—Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) has also stepped up efforts to launch its ambitious project, aimed at promoting the country as a customized brand at international level.
“We are inch closer to roll out our mega tourism promotion project which includes Brand Pakistan, an exclusive tourism portal, a ten-year road-map for tourism promotion, National Minimum Standards for hotels and others,” a senior officer of the PTDC told APP.
He said the PTDC had floated an advertisement in the national dailies to hire services of an event management company to launch the project at the earliest.
He said under the project, which was finalized after hiring international experts, an initiative- Brand Pakistan- had been prepared to introduce the country as a brand across the globe.
It also had an exclusive tourism portal, which was meant to promote the country’s tourist attractions across the world through virtual galleries, videos and documentaries.
The officer said the portal would provide world-class exposure to Pakistan’s tourist attractions through one click. It consisted of a user-friendly interface to interact with the prospective tourists and give them the necessary and latest information about the country’s tourist attractions, he added.
He said a ten-year road-map to invigorate the tourism industry was also part of the project.
The ‘National Tourism Strategy’ (NTS) 2020-2030 would ensure maximum utilization of its huge resources for sustained economic growth, poverty alleviation and reduced social inequalities.
He said the strategy was guided by a vision (2020-2030) that envisaged a mature, sustainable and responsible tourism industry contributing significantly to the economic development of Pakistan and the quality of life of all her people, primarily through job creation, social inclusion and economic growth.
The NTS would raise the industry’s competitiveness and ensure maximum utilization of Pakistan’s natural, cultural, historical and geographical assets.
He said salient features of the strategy included sustained economic growth, employment creation, poverty reduction, safety and security of tourists, roads and efficient transport services, comfortable and hygienic accommodation and restaurants, value shopping, efficient telecommunication services and access to quality health services.
As a part of National Tourism strategy, he said a five-year National Tourism Strategy Action Plan (2020-2025) had also been prepared that provided a road-map for effective implementation of the strategic efforts to boost tourism.