Pakistan full of hidden natural wonders, says PM

Updated December 30, 2019

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Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation Managing Director Syed Intikhab Alam said the draft ‘national tourism strategy’ had been developed in consultation with all major stakeholders. — Photo courtesy PM's Instagram/File
Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation Managing Director Syed Intikhab Alam said the draft ‘national tourism strategy’ had been developed in consultation with all major stakeholders. — Photo courtesy PM's Instagram/File

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that Pakistan is a land of unimaginable beauty, hidden natural wonders and untapped tourism potential.

He said this on Sunday in a Twitter message which came after a travel magazine, Wander­lust, listed nine destinations of Pakistan for adventurers in 2020, from the magical Himalayan valleys to lunar landscapes of bubbling mud volcanoes.

The magazine described the 2020 hot list destinations in Pakistan that offer diversity of extraordinary natural beauty without crowds.

Wanderlust lists from world’s longest Baltoro Glacier, stretching 63km, to 800-metre tall Trango Towers, world’s highest Deosai plateau, Hunza Valley and Attabad Lake, Neelum Valley, Lake Saiful Maluk in the northern parts of Pakistan to Thar Desert and Hingol National Park, in the west and south of the country as hot list for travellers.

Last Thursday, the Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) organised a consultative workshop in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme to take the process further and finalise a ‘national tourism strategy’.

During the workshop, members of the National Tourism Coordination Board (NTCB), private sector tourism experts and members of thematic working groups shared their recommendations and suggestions.

NTCB chairman and Special Assistant to the PM Syed Zulfiqar Abbas Bukhari inaugurated the workshop and appreciated the contribution of participants in the tourism sector. He said that the government welcomed constructive and productive feedback of experts and private sector representatives, which would be incorporated in the tourism strategy. The proposed strategy would provide a roadmap for achieving important milestones in a more organised and systematic manner, he added.

PTDC Managing Director Syed Intikhab Alam said the draft ‘national tourism strategy’ had been developed in consultation with all major stakeholders. The PTDC has planned to promptly incorporate comments and recommendations of private sector experts and NTCB members, he said.

Meanwhile, British Back­packer Society (BBS) has stated that Pakistan, with improved law and order, and inclusive steps taken by its government, may see a huge influx of foreign tourists in coming years as the world’s rapidly growing tourist and travel destinations of the next decade.

Pakistan, after clinching top position in the recently issued ranking of the United States-based travel magazine (Cond Nast) for the 2020s best tourist attractions, has now been declared as third highly potential adventure travel destinations of the world by the BBS, according to APP.

The BBS, in its previous list of the world’s best tourist destinations issued in 2018 had also regarded Pakistan as number one tourist attraction, besides describing it as one of the friendliest countries on earth, with mountain scenery that is beyond anyone’s wildest imagination.

The BBS is an organisation dedicated to promoting and enabling sustainable adventure travel in emerging tourism markets.

Unlike the previous practice, the BBS is looking for a decade-wise perspective this year and will be issuing the ranking of those countries, which it believes as top 10 fastest growing adventure tourism destinations of the world during the next 10 years, BBS President Samuel Joynson told APP in a telephone conversation.

He said the BBS members had voted Pakistan as one of the highly potential tourism markets of the future as it started from a higher base. Pakistan offers much more to travellers and tourists, he added.

Mr Joynson appreciated the government’s steps for the promotion of tourism, particularly for hassle-free access of the foreign tourists to the country.

He said the new e-visa system and abolishment of No-Objection-Certificate for foreign tourists depicted that the incumbent government had put tourism at the front and centre of its policy agenda.

The e-visa initiative is a huge step forward and very positive as so many BBS members now can easily travel to Pakistan without any hindrance, he remarked.

He underlined the need for projecting Pakistan’s tourism potential overseas through an advertisement campaign and projection on the social media.

To a query, he said the government should focus on building mid-range hotels in its northern region as the tourists were facing a major challenge of accommodation.

He also called for upgrading the existing transportation and road infrastructure.

Published in Dawn, December 30th, 2019