ISLAMABAD: Pakistani crafts are known across the world for their intricate beauty and for this reason we must promote it even more to help our artists, said National Heritage and Culture Division Secretary Fareena Mazhar on Tuesday.

She was speaking to participants of an event held to commemorate World Tourism Day 2022.

Paintings and heritage crafts from Rohtas Fort – a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) world heritage site –opened on Tuesday at the Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA).

Artists are selling their work for a cause, she said, adding that, “these events help promote our artists and historical monuments for cultural education and sustainable tourism in Pakistan”.

Director of Italian Agency of Development Cooperation (AICS) Emanuela Benini said Italy was promoting culture and heritage in Pakistan through various projects and initiatives.

Unesco Director Yousaf Filali said Unesco across Pakistan was supporting preservation, promotion and protection of heritage through education and community development.

Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) Managing Director Aftabur Rehman Rana said World Tourism Day was a time to renew the pledge that tourism was an important tool that served as a catalyst for economic growth, which was ultimately associated with job creation and boosting travel and hospitality sector.

“Works in this show will not only support creativity of the artists and craft persons but also create a sense of responsibility among the viewers towards our national heritage,” he said.

The event was organised by PTDC, Sustainable Tourism Foundation Pakistan (STFP) in collaboration with PNCA, Serena Hotels, Unesco Islamabad and Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS).

Taxila

Punjab Archaeology Department in collaboration with Tourism Development Corporation Punjab (TDCP) also observed World Tourism Day at Taxila Museum with day-long colourful events on Tuesday.

Students showed keen interest in sculptures, stone replicas, coins and other valuables put on display at the museum. They learnt and apprised themselves about the centuries-old Buddhist culture of Taxila.

A painting competition was also held on this occasion in which children made paintings of the museum’s main building. A seminar was arranged in the museum library in which speakers and experts spoke about prevalent problems and their possible suggestions for improvement of tourism in Taxila.

Speaking on the occasion, Deputy Commissioner Tahir Farooq said it was of highest importance to make the coming generations aware of culture and heritage.

“We need to keep our history alive and protected,” he said, adding that tourism not only helped in empowerment of rural communities by generating employment and boosting trade, but also enabled people to protect their heritage.

Gilgit-Baltistan & Azad Kashmir

Speakers at Sustainable Tourism Conference on Monday termed climate change and unplanned influx of tourists to Gilgit-Baltistan as the biggest threats to sustainable tourism in the region.

Speakers raised concerns on increasing environmental degradation at tourists points. They pointed out that laws must be created to prevent people from polluting the area.

GB Chief Minister Khalid Khurshid Khan, Chief Secretary Mohyuddin Ahmed Wani, GB Assembly speaker Amjad Ali Zaidi, Tourism Minister Raja Nasir Ali Khan, top officials, representatives from the tourism department, forest, Environmental Protection Agency and other experts participated.

One of the speakers pointed out that tour operators witnessed that garbage and anti-environmental activities at ecologically sensitive areas including near K2 base camp, Biafo glacier and other areas contributed towards environmental pollution.

Yasir Husain said the Karakoram region moved all the time as the area was located on tectonic plates. Director of GB EPA Shahzad Shigri said getting no objection certificate (NOC) from the agency should be made mandatory for construction of private infrastructure, hotels and other buildings across the region.

On the other hand, the Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) tourism and archaeology department is zealously working towards realising the vision of Prime Minister Sardar Tanveer Ilyas to turn the territory into a hub of tourism by exploring, identifying and developing new locations, an official said on Tuesday.

Talking to reporters, Tehzeebun Nisa, the newly appointed director general of the department, said the liberated territory was no less than a paradise on earth for nature lovers belonging to any gender and age group and the government was paying special attention to facilitate them by all means.

“Prime Minister Sardar Tanveer Ilyas is very keen about tapping the rich tourism potential of Azad Kashmir because he earnestly believes that it will subsequently open enormous livelihood avenues for the people in a territory where so far public sector jobs are [considered] the only source of employment,” she said. — Additional reporting by Amjad Iqbal, Jamil Nagri & Tariq Naqash

Published in Dawn, September 28th, 2022

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