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How can we save the tourism industry?

Published Jul 01, 2013 05:59pm

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Tourism has a huge potential in Khyber Pakhtunkhawa where its development has not received the priority it deserves. - Illustration by Khalida Haq
Tourism has a huge potential in Khyber Pakhtunkhawa where its development has not received the priority it deserves. - Illustration by Khalida Haq
As terrorism has increased manifold over the last few years, tourism in Pakistan has suffered a massive blow (amongst all the other terrible consequences of militancy and violence). Pakistan’s most beautiful terrain up north in the country boasts scenic landscapes, daunting peaks and great weather in the summer.

All of these tourist-friendly attractions also keep afloat employment in the region, of millions of people who run hotels, serve as tour guides, own small restaurants, and so on.

These are the millions who’ve lost out with increased levels of violence all over Pakistan, and specifically in the northwest. Things came to a head last week, when, during the peak mountaineering/tourist season, nine foreign tourists were massacred, ostensibly by the Taliban.

There is no doubt that this has caused a massive drop in both holiday makers and more serious-minded mountaineers coming to the region. Despite the fact that some brave trekkers have decided to brave both the dangers of nature and of severe security threats, the reality is that many consider what happened last week the death knell of Pakistan’s once well-established tourism industry.

Considering how much of the northern areas depend on tourism to boost the local economy, what do you think can be done to protect the tourism industry in Pakistan? What guarantees can be given to tourists braving the various threats to keep the various people in Gilgit-Baltistan, etc. employed? How can tourism be marketed to encourage local and foreign holiday makers to come to the country?

Dawn.com invites its readers to express their views.