Tourism industry has been associated with people since ancient times. Unlike our predecessors, we can affordably and in a shorter time travel across the world in large numbers, comparatively safe. Tourism is one of the biggest and fastest growing industries globally. It has a positive impact on economic, socio-cultural, environmental and educational resources of nations.
The positive effects of tourism on a country’s economy include the growth and development of various industries such as transportation, accommodation, wildlife, arts and entertainment. This brings about the creation of new jobs and revenue generated from foreign exchange, investments and payments of goods and services provided. It promotes cottage craft industry for production of souvenirs. Also human resource is developed.
The Pakistani economy is not in a good shape. It is in a process of recovery and therefore foreign exchange is needed on an emergency basis to meet its requirement of imports. To narrow down the gap in Pakistan’s import bill, there is need to earn foreign exchange. The major source of foreign exchange is export which may not be an easy task in the current circumstances and it cannot even occur so rapidly or on emergency basis. Another source for earning foreign exchange is remittances. Previously, overseas Pakistani’s were sending their savings to their families but in the last few years the remittances have also gone down probably because of the global economic crisis.
It is believed that tourism can attract foreign exchange very quickly as compared to sports and industry. Pakistan has great potential in its tourism industry because it not only includes mountainous regions such as the Northern areas but it also has beautiful landscapes in the form of Cholistan desert.
On one hand Pakistan is full of natural beauty while on the other hand rich cultural traditions and civilizations may attract many foreign tourists, who would be a source of foreign exchange and thus help to narrow down the gap in demand and supply for foreign exchange in Pakistan’s ailing economy. This might give immediate relief to the desperate economic crisis that Pakistan is trying to come out of currently.
Pakistan is blessed with diverse topography and climate. Its people also make it a unique country that is worth visiting. The Northern part of Pakistan is of high altitude with K2 , the second highest peak after Mount Everest. Pakistan possesses the world’s largest collection of high mountain peaks. Around 200 peaks are above 6000 meters high. World’s largest collection of glaciers outside the arctic and Antarctic region, world’s largest canal irrigation network, world’s highest paved road the Karakuram Highway which is almost above 4000 meters from the sea level and it is also a part of the ancient silk route. Pakistan also homes the world’s highest railroad bridge at Kan Mehtazari in Balochistan. World’s highest mud volcano at Hingol in Balochistan, world’s most extreme temperatures which are +50 degree Celsius in Sibbi, upto -50 degree Celsius in Gilgit Baltistan. The roof of the world, the Deosai natural Park is located in Harmang Astor and Skardu in Gilgit Baltistan. It has an average elevation of 4114 meters above the sea level making the Deosai plains as the 2nd highest plateau in the world. The park protects an area of 3000 sq km. it is well known for its rich flora and fauna of the Karakuram west Tibetian plateau. Alpine stepieco region. In spring it is covered by sweeps of wild flowers and a wide variety of butterflies. Deosai is the 2nd highest Plateau after Changtang Tibetian plateau.
The southern part of Pakistan is a coastal area along the Arabian Sea with white sandy beaches and deserts. Tourists from cold areas can enjoy summer during their winter seasons. Even during December and January one can swim in the open sea. Mild winter is an attraction for those who are fed up of the severe winters of their hometowns.
The central part of Pakistan is a moderate area where most are plain lands and agriculture is the strength of the main part which is also the main strength of Pakistan. The Pakistani civilization is very old as it belongs to several thousand years of rich history. The Gandhara civilization is one of the biggest attractions for those who love archeology and old civilizations. Mohenjadaro and Harappa are signs of the oldest civilizations of these regions. Pakistan is equally good attraction for religious tourism as well. The first ever Buddhist University was in Taxila in Pakistan. In fact, the origin of Budhism was in the border areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Later on it spread to India, China, Japan and the rest of the world. Many Buddhists visit Pakistan religiously. Besides this Kartarpur corridor is another important religious tourist sight for the Sikh pilgrims from around the world.
Pakistan offers local food in a variety of manners and rich in culture. Local traditions and hospitality of the Pakistani society is a great attraction for the nature loving people. The government of Pakistan has launched an e-visa and much friendly visa regime to promote tourism. Pakistan has also developed a road network through the country so as to make accessibility much more convenient and reasonable. Boarding lodging is also affordable with reasonable quality.
Law and order situation has also improved over the years. In fact, Pakistan was a very peaceful country and tourists who visited Pakistan in the 60’s and onwards considered it as a paradise and a very safe country. But due to the Afghan war the image of Pakistan was damaged. As a result, for the past couple of decades the foreign tourists avoided to travel to Pakistan but now the situation has changed and many foreign tourists are visiting Pakistan. Besides this recently Prince William and Kate Middleton also visited Pakistan. It was after several decades that a British royal couple visited Pakistan. This was all possible because of the efforts of the current government, which has been trying to not only create a softer image of Pakistan globally but also has been successful in improving the security situation in Pakistan.
Tourism in Pakistan is a huge opportunity for entrepreneurs from different countries to make a quick profit due to Pakistan’s new friendly policies for investment. Mostly tourists from the developed countries visit the developing ones, so that they spend luxurious holidays. As a result of which the host country is able to earn a good revenue. Many tourists who are visiting Pakistan to spend holidays in different parts of the Northern areas. This has helped the country in earning a good amount of foreign exchange. Besides this, these visits have not only helped in promoting the people to people contact but also boosting the understanding of how hospitable the Pakistani nation is and creating harmony among the people of Pakistan and those visiting from other countries. Moreover, it is creating a positive global image of Pakistan and the Pakistani society. Currently the visit to Kartarpur shrine is also going to help Pakistan earn a huge amount of foreign exchange because the entry fee to the shrine is about $ 45, which was waived off this time, so it has help Pakistan in not only creating a peaceful image globally but also it is going to help Pakistan earn a lot of revenue from the visits by the Sikh pilgrims.
The Khyber Pukhtunkhwa government has made a lot of investment in tourism sector and it is progressing with time. The other provinces must also follow the steps of KP government. Tourism not only contributes to the GDP but also makes the world recognize a country for its scenic beauty and culture. Currently this industry can help Pakistan in not only earning revenue but also to clear the misconception of being considered an unsafe place, to the world.