GILGIT: Chairman Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) Zulfiqar Bukhari has said the federal government in coordination with all stakeholders is planning to boost tourism in the country by removing all hurdles to foreigners’ visits to the tourist destinations, particularly to Gilgit-Baltistan.
Talking to Dawn on Wednesday, Mr Bukhari, who is also special assistant to prime minister on overseas Pakistanis and human resource development, said Pakistan’s branding name was being finalised to promote the country’s tourism potential and destinations internationally.
“Thousands of foreign tourists are visiting Pakistan after implementation of the visa relaxation policy for foreigners,” he said.
“The visa relaxation policy for 175 countries and abolishment of NOC condition to visit Gilgit-Baltistan for foreigners has resulted in good implications on tourism industry,” he said.
Replying a question, Mr Bukhari said thousands of foreigners were applying for Pakistan visa online and they were being facilitated under the visa relaxation policy.
Brand name is necessary to promote tourism destinations and to build country’s good image abroad, he said, adding despite having tourism treasures in Pakistan, it had no branding name abroad.
Zulfi Bukhari said brand marketing of Pakistan in other countries was not enough and the government planned to ensure Pakistan’s tourism destination marketing in other countries.
“Many names are being considered to give Pakistan a brand to attract foreign tourists,” he maintained.
He said: “I am constantly in contact with tour operators and relevant officials to remove all hurdles to foreigners’ visits to Pakistan and provide them all facilities.”
Pakistan has religious tourism, traditional and cultural tourism and adventure tourism potentials, and after federal government’s tourism friendly policy the tourism industry will improve, he said, adding the tourism sector remained neglected for decades, and it would take time to fix all the issues.
Mr Bukhari said properties of PTDC would be leased out to private sector to generate revenue.
With 533 employees, the PTDC runs 14 motel chains in the country, he said, adding the corporation had been in financial deficit of millions of rupees annually for decades, and the decision to lease its sites out has been taken to make it a profitable organisation.
The hotels and restaurants of the PTDC will be leased out for 30 years, so that the management planning could be made for long term, he said.
Published in Dawn, May 30th, 2019