LONDON: Internationally renowned Pakistani mountaineer, Nazir Sabir, has called for exploiting full potentials of the tourism sector, including mountaineering, by providing visitors on-arrival visa facility at airports to attract a large number of tourists for benefit of the country.
“By facilitating foreign tourists, Pakistan can fetch the badly-needed precious foreign exchange as the country offers tremendous opportunities and potentials in the field of tourism, especially in the trekking and adventure tourism sector,” he told APP on Sunday.
Mr Sabir belongs to Hunza and he was the first Pakistani mountaineer, who reached the summit of the world’s highest peak, the Mount Everest, in May 17, 2000.
He also climbed the K-2 in 1981, the second highest peak of the world, besides climbing four 8000 meters peaks in the country.
Mr Sabir, currently visiting United Kingdom (UK) for attending an international tourism and investment conference, said that tourism was the second largest industry in the world, but regretted that Pakistan, being the home of five out of fourteen 8000 meter peaks and one of the most attractive tourist destinations, was only able to get 5 per cent share of the world’s tourism.
He said that Pakistan could increase its share in the world’s tourism by facilitating foreign visitors and providing on-arrival visa facility to tourists.
He recalled that this facility was available to foreign tourists coming from 64 countries a few years ago which attracted a good number of tourists from different countries of the world.
This visa facility, he said, was also extendable.
He said that three mountain ranges, Karakorum, Himaliya and Hindukush, were situated in Pakistan and these ranges make the country “a paradise for mountaineers of the world”.
Mr Sabir, who was a former provincial minister for education, criticised devolution of tourism to provinces under the 18th Constitution Amendment without building the capacity of provinces, especially of Gilgit-Baltistan.
He said the move had badly affected the tourism sector in Gilgit-Baltistan.
He appealed to the PTI government to revive the previous federal ministry of tourism in its original form and status in the country, to boost tourism in the country.
Mr Sabir welcomed policies announced by Prime Minister Imran Khan for promoting tourism in the country.
He expressed the hope that these initiatives would promote tourism in the country.
Published in Dawn, November 5th, 2018