By Naveel Ahmed
ISLAMABAD – With an aim to promote tourism in the country, Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) is moving forward briskly on materializing creation of an endowment fund worth Rs one billion.
After the federal government leaped forward to fulfill its commitment for exploring more tourist destinations in the country, PTDC followed the suit with drafting rules for the fund and their early notification.
“An endowment fund titled ‘Pakistan Tourism Development Endowment Fund’ (PTDEF) has been created with seed money of Rs 1 billion to promote tourism across the country,” Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) Managing Director Syed Intikhab Alam told APP.
The government has set up an endowment fund of Rs one billion to execute its marketing plans for promotion of the country’s unexplored scenic sites and tourists resorts at local and international level.
“The PTDEF would be formally launched shortly as rules for its operation and management had been sent to the Finance and Law Division for vetting,” Intikhab said, highlighting the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government’s one-year performance in the tourism sector.
The fund, principally approved by the government in May, would bring financial sustainability in executing the projects for tourism promotion, he added.
Intikhab said the fund would be utilized for marketing and projection of tourist destinations, besides holding research, studies and surveys in tourism industry.
The government, Intikhab said, had also constituted the National Tourism Coordination Board (NTCB) to enhance liaison between federation and provinces, besides taking all necessary steps to turn Pakistan into a world class tourist destination.
The PTDC had been assigned to act as secretariat and implementation body of the NTCB, he added.
The Managing Director said nine thematic working groups established by NTCB were in the process of finalizing their proposals and recommendations to project Pakistan’s culture, heritage and archeology, adventure and eco-tourism potential.
He said the NTCB was also working to develop Pakistan as a tourism brand in the World.
To select a name for the brand, Intikhab said surveys and polls were held for the first time. A well-thought out brand development and promotional campaign would be rolled out in fiscal year 2019-20, he added.
A Buddhist trail was also being developed in order to promote religious tourism in Pakistan, he said and added that the country had managed to attract foreign investment of 500 million UK pounds for revamping religious sites of Sikhs.
Speaking about the PTDC, he said the future of PTDC was facing uncertain times since enactment of 18th Constitutional Amendment in 2009 as the tourism ministry was devolved to the provinces without deciding Corporation’s future.
He said the previous governments could not bring significant changes in the corporation’s structure, however, the present government soon after assuming the power initiated a reform agenda and decided to retain PTDC at the federal level to promote tourism and facilitate provinces in carrying out an integrated tourism promotion policy.
The experts from private sector were made part of the PTDC Board of Directors (BoD) to get their valuable input to boost tourism in the country.
The government reforms also involved restructuring of PTDC. Various options had been prepared for the purpose and would be submitted to its BoD soon for approval.
He said no developmental activity was undertaken by PTDC since 2010, however, this year the government had accommodated PTDC in Federal Public Service Development Programme by allocating Rs. 200 million.
He said Rs 40 million were allocated for conducting feasibility study of Aiwan-e-Sayahat in Islamabad while Rs 160 million would be spent on promotion of tourism in the federal capital.