Dr Saeed Ahmed Ali
LAHORE, Jul 17 (APP):Feature Globally, the economic potential of agriculture is huge and the size of the world population is growing tremendously while affecting the resource availability. To explore new economic landscapes, agriculture is now shifting to entertainment of agri-farming which is well connected with digital-economy.
Pakistan is an agricultural country and its agro-fields are covered with crops mostly all year-long with agronomic crops, vegetable fields, wheat and rice fields, orchids and herbal plants.Agricultural scenic beauty becomes worth watching when crops bloom at their peak , making the time spent at village unforgettable.Appearance of village crop beauty with modern digital tools and social media is mind blowing and everyone wants to explore the beauty of agricultural fields.
Agri-Tourism Development Corporation of Pakistan Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Tariq Tanveer while talking to APP said that Agri-tourism was the crossroads of tourism and agriculture, adding the natural beauty provided public visit working farms, ranches or wineries to buy products, enjoy entertainment, participate in fields’ activities.
He said in Pakistan, organizing agricultural events in village areas, agri-field trips, field activities and picnic parties for school kids and community could help set a new trend of generating money to strengthen the economy.
Most of the European countries are generating a big chunk of their annual earnings and GDP through exposure of their scenic sites by using digital communication, which has changed the entire world.
Pakistan,including Punjab, Sindh agricultural landscapes, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s Swat valley, Naran, Kaghan, Gilgit-Baltistan, and a lot more regions in the country are the most beautiful places, which could attract tourists from across the world and take economy of Pakistan to new heights, he believes. Muhammad Sarang Bhatti, a noted agri-landlord from Sukheke Mandi told APP that in modern digital era, eco-tourism and village agricultural scene attractions have emerged as a source of foreign exchange and the fastest revenue generating industry, across the world.
In fact, digitalization and technology hold the promise of progress and prosperity for almost every country, including Pakistan.Pakistan Association of Tourism Operators President Maqsoodul Mulk told APP that Pakistan could achieve tremendous revenue goals in agricultural tourism if the government appoints professionals and experts to all formations of the industry and ensures good communications infrastructure.
Mulk said that the government’s recent decision to end the mandatory ‘No Objection Certificate’ (NOC) was welcomed globally and the number of domestic and international tourists was increasing every year.
According to the World Travel & Tourism Council, Pakistan?s travel and tourism industry has contributed more than 7 percent to GDP with the worth of PKR 2,452 billion in 2018. It includes foreign and domestic travel and tourism spending amounting to Rs. 115 billion and its contribution in creating 3,850 employment opportunities in the country.
Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation Managing Director Syed Intikhab Alam told APP that in north of Pakistan, proper projection of ecotourism including orchard and terrace crops could bring home investment in billions, while the handicraft business and employment could also be increased in the area.
He believes that Pakistan will soon become the top tourist destination, as earlier it was not properly showcased through digital-tools. “It is high time for Pakistan to present its destinations before the world through digital means,” he suggested.Punjab Minister for Youth Affair, Sports, Archaeology and Tourism Rai Taimoor Khan, while talking to APP, said that the province had multi-billion dollar potential in all kinds of tourism and was blessed with agricultural beauty and heritage.
To a question he said that Agri-tourism was gaining momentum at a pace second to none, adding, the figures on digital progress of the tourism sector spoke for themselves, especially in the field of agriculture.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government in the province had taken exemplary measures in embracing digital-tourism to project the country’s true tourism potential at national and international levels, by adopting effective and open policies in the sector, he added.
“In Pakistan, agri-tourism had a tremendous potential to significantly contribute to the national economy, which had not only been identified by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government but also endorsed by the international experts at various forums,” the minister remarked.
The minister shared with APP that the Punjab government was going to launch a Tour-destination-app including a YouTube channel, soon which would help provide free information regarding operators, guidelines, vehicles and hotel booking details to domestic and international tourists.To project the real beauty of agri-tourism destinations of the province, the services of noted v-loggers, bloggers across the province would be hired, so that the young generation could get awareness about their rich heritage and identity, the minister adds.The minister admitted that the social media had a marvelous potential to promote the scenic beauty of the country, located in the north, adding that the incumbent government had given priority to digital media, which had proved to be an effective tool so far.