LAHORE, Dec 9: The tourism ministry is celebrating 2007 as “Visit Pakistan Year” and has planned some 52 different events all over the country to attract tourists, beginning with an inaugural ceremony including a cultural show at Islamabad on Dec 15, to be presided over by President Gen Pervez Musharraf.
This was announced by federal tourism minister Nilofar Bakhtiar at a news conference at a local hotel on Saturday. She said the inaugural ceremony would be participated in by some 200 foreign delegates, including tour operators, hoteliers, ministers and other tourism industry stakeholders.
Ms Bakhtiar said the tourism ministry had finalised and printed a “Calendar of Events 2007” that carried dates of the events being held to promote tourism.
She said the celebrations and the events would begin with Lahore Marathon on Jan 14, followed by one-week Pakistan Tourism Fair in Lahore beginning from Jan 15, besides a two-day competition of brass band by Pakistan armed forces on Jan 17 and 18.
She said the events would help create a soft image of Pakistan commensurate with its tourism attractions and compatible with the socio-cultural heritage of the country.
During the next year, Ms Bakhtiar said, the tourism ministry would market its tourism products, including history and heritage sites, mountains, northern areas, religious tourism as well as Pakistani people and their hospitality. “We need to end suppression and create an environment of openness in the society,” she added.
She said the tourism ministry, in collaboration with all four provincial governments, would ensure that all foreign tourists’ stay in Pakistan would be very pleasant. “Law and order should not be an issue in `Visit Pakistan Year,” she stressed.
Answering a question, she admitted that many countries had issued negative travel advisories for their citizens warning them against traveling to Pakistan, and urged the media to promote a soft image of the country instead of highlighting crime incidents. Crime was a global issue, and not specific to Pakistan, she added.
Ms Bakhtiar said the tourism ministry was cultivating brand ambassadors, besides contacting different countries’ ambassadors, tour operators and other officials concerned for the promotion of a better image of Pakistan. The tourism ministry was also sending a lot of promotional material to all Pakistani embassies as well as tour operators in different countries.
Punjab Tourism Minister Mian Aslam Iqbal, Punjab Social Services Board chairperson Saba Sadiq and TDCP managing director Arshad Bhatti were also present on the occasion.
The major tourism events being arranged during 2007 also include Sibi Mela (Feb 4-5), National skiing Championship, Malam Jaba (Feb 10-15), Thar Desert Festival, Marathon, cultural programme at Umarkot Fort, Sindh (Feb 16-18), Jashan-e-Baharan Spring Festival (Feb 18-23), Third Cholistan Jeep Rally with a cultural Programme (March 8-10), Channan Pir Festival (Indus Guides) (March 8-9), Mehrgarh Conference, Quetta (March 15th), Spring Blossom Festival Northern Area (March 15-20).
Similarly, from March 23 to 25 Tour of Islamabad, March 26 to 31 Gandhara Week, Historical Review of the Buddhist Civilization, Sound and Light Show, Taxila; April 11 to 14 Baisakhi (Hasan Abadal); April 12 to 24 Adventure/Extreme Sports, Deosai Plain, Northern Areas; April 12 to 13 Baisakhi Mela (Festival at Sakhi Sarwar); April 24 to 26 Train Safari, Khewra Salt Mines with a Cultural Programme, 49th meeting of UN WTO CSA; May 11 to 15 Chitral and Kalash Festival; May 16 to 21 White Water Rafting, Azad Kashmir; May 25 to 27 SAARC Tourism Mart Karachi.
On June 9, Golden Jubilee Celebrations of the First Ascent of Broad Peak (8047m) will be held; from June 15 to July 15 Pakistan Women Kushek Training/Expedition will be held in Hunza; June 22 to 29 Shogran Festival, June 15 to Aug 30 Pakistan Broad Peak Golden Jubilee Expedition; June 25 to 27 Hunza Festival and The Tourism Convention; July 7 to 9 Shandur Polo Festival (Chitral-Gilgit), with a festival at Kalash.
Other events include : July 10 to 15 Karakorum Car Rally; July 15 to 17 Broghil Festival; July 23 to 28 Mountain Marathon (AJK Kaghan); August 12 to 14 Freedom jeep Rally, Gaddani Beach; August 14, 60th Independence Day; September 1-3 International Mountain Marathon, Hunza; Sept 1-6 Silk Route Festival (Northern Areas); Sept 3-6 Sufi Festival at Sehwan Sharif; Sept 7-9 International Mountain Bike Race, Kaghan; Sept 10-11 International Mountain Tourism Conference Islamabad; Sept 10-12 Karakorum International Film Festival KIFF, Islamabad; Sept 20-24 Painted Truck Caravan Karachi to Khyber; Sept 27 World Tourism Day Celebrations, Peshawar (Ramazan Celebrations in NWFP); Oct 9-14 Hot Air Ballooning Competition, Islambad; Oct 15-20 Jashn-e-Sahil, Gawadar; OCt 21-28 Journey Through Time-Sound and Light Show and a cultural event at Moenjodaro; Nov 1 Jashn-e-Azaadi, Gilgit Celebrations; Nov 1-13 A walk through historic times; Nov 2-11 Birthday Celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev Jee at Lahore, Hasan Abdal and Nankana Shaib; Nov 10-19 International paragliding Competition, Islamabad, Swat and Azad Kashmir; Nov 21-27, International Festival of Performing Arts, Lahore;.Nov 24 World Buddhist Congress and a Festival of Asian Arts and Crafts, Islamabad; Dec 1-20 Pakistan Cultural Train Safari, Peshawar to Karachi; Dec 24 Christmas Celebrations, Lahore; Dec 30 Tourism Convention and the Closing Ceremony, Islamabad and a Cultural Show.