PTDC and Tourism Horizons of Pakistan

In contemporary global economy, tourism is one of the most obvious and expanding sectors. Indeed tourism plays a significant role in boosting Economy of a country.  Therefore once this particular industry or sector flourishes it certainly bring optimistic economic outcomes especially when it comes to gross domestic product (GDP) as well as employment opportunities. In South Asian countries, the tourism industry works as an engine of economic development and GDP growth. According to the annual report published by WTTC, the Travel and Tourism sector has experienced 3.5% growth in 2019, outpacing the global economy growth of 2.5% for the ninth consecutive year.

Consequently over the past five years, many jobs were created by the sector. Unfortunately this sector has been badly impacted by Covid 19 pandemic.  Still for many reasons tourism industry will keep impacting the Economies around the globe, for that reason this industry needs more attention from growth perspectives. Tourism’s direct contribution to GDP is expected to grow at an average of 3.9% per year over the next ten years. It is also expected that by 2027, Travel & Tourism industry can generate more than 380 million jobs globally, which equates to 1 in 9 of all jobs in the world.  It is also expected that over the next decade, tourism industry can contribute around 23% of total worldwide net job creation.

In the meantime, total GDP from this industry is expected to account for 11.4% of global GDP.  The exports through global visitors are also expected to account for 7.1% of total global exports. In addition, Tourism industry is expected to increase its share of global economic activity across each of GDP, employment, exports and investment. This industry can become a reason to impact other sectors positively, including communications, financial and business services, manufacturing and retail and distribution. There has always been an evident need to promote the tourism industry globally. From the magnificent mountain ranges and delightful meadows in the north to eye-catching coastlines and centuries-old archaeological sites in the south, Pakistan has immense diversity for tourists around the globe. No matters whether one wants to take pleasure in trekking through treacherous terrains, rafting in fast-flowing rivers, desert jeep safaris, exotic bird watching, yak polo or just want camping under the canopy every aspect is available in Pakistan.

Tourism is indeed an indivisible blend of economic and socio-cultural issues. It has a wonderful possibility and ability to earn foreign exchange, job creation, rising tax revenue and encouraging business activities. Such activities include transportation, fruit production, agriculture, hotel industry, amusement and other related services. Tourism in Pakistan, as we find it today, has been formed among other things by its history, land, economy and socio-cultural traditions. Pakistan is one of the developing countries in the world. The country is blessed with the natural beauty with amalgamation of historical elements. This is something that gets attraction of the tourists around the world. In order to promote tourism industry in Pakistan The Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation was incorporated on March 30, 1970, as a Public Corporation Limited owned by the Government of Pakistan and governed by a board of directors. Therefore the formation of the National Tourism Coordination Board, PTDC was revamped in March 2019. One of the prominent steps was to enable all the provinces to establish their own tourism strategies according to the budgets they have.

The prime vision of PTDC is to promote the tourism industry in Pakistan through promotion of its geographical assets, natural beauty, cultural heritage and archaeological sites. PTDC is engaged in the development of the tourism sector in Pakistan as a national precedence. In order to achieve this particular purpose PTDC is creating sustainable environment that can further enhance tourism horizons in the country. The tourism development corporation of Pakistan is making all efforts to offer domestic and foreign tourists with top-notch amenities. PTDC is also trying to preserve and protect the cultural and social norms of the country. The most important element is the close partnership with the private sector in order to endorse a tourist-friendly image of Pakistan. On the other hand PTDC also have possession of several hotels, resorts and motels at many tourist attractions in the country. The utter aim is to provide low-cost lodging options for tourists. PTDC also provide transportation for tourists in few parts of the country.

Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation also takes the responsibility of advertising and marketing the tourist products of Pakistan. They are producing worthy publicity material as well as organising promotional activities in order to enhance the tourism related avenues within the country. The role of private sector in tourism development can’t be ignored.  In order to engage the private enterprises many initiatives have been taken for collaboration and partnership under the supervision of PTDC.  Last year Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development, Sayed Zulfikar Abbas Bukhari had been appointed as NTCB Chairman. The chairman is keenly making positive changes in the organization along with introducing initiatives that can further boost the tourism industry in the country. While having a glimpse of the tourism industry of Pakistan we get to know that Pakistan in 1949, Pakistan became member of the International Union of Tourism Organizations (IUOTO) now known as the World Tourism Organization (WTO). Surprisingly until 1955 the tourism sector was attached with the Ministry of Railways. Later the sector was attached to the Commerce Ministry. In 1960 while realizing the importance of this particular sector a Tourism Bureau was envisaged and further got attached with the Ministry of Commerce as a Department.

In 1964 this department was moved to the Office of Chief Administrator Civil Aviation and Tourism. In 1968, When the Aviation Division was shaped the Bureau remained as an attached Department of this Division. In 1970 this Tourism Bureau was relegated to a Cell but remained part of the Civil Aviation Division. Though, most of the responsibilities and activities were assigned to the lately created Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation. It shows that there was a thinking and sense of commitment regarding flourish tourism in Pakistan but unfortunately there wasn’t a road map to emulate. Tourism in Pakistan got importance for the first time at the policy making level in 1972 when Ministry of Minority and Religious Affairs and Tourism was formed. It was the first time when there was some proper authority for further engagement with regards to tourism. Although in 1976, this Ministry was disbanded and Tourism Division once again became part of the Commerce Ministry.  Later in 1977 the Ministry of Culture, Sports, Tourism and Archaeology was shaped. From 1977 to 1996 tourism department remained part of the same Ministry but was given a variety of emphases in the management and switched between divisions. While gazing the foregoing impression one can conclude that the way in which tourism was shifted around over the years, it had a comparatively low precedence in the government.

Regardless of the fact that a national tourism policy of Pakistan was initiated in 1990, the sector was still accorded less importance or priority.  The constant shifting and attachments with various ministries made it a less imperative segment as more importance and emphasis was given to the other ministerial affairs that seemed to be more important. Eventually in March 2004 with the divergence of the Ministry, Tourism has been given a separate status and consequently Ministry of Tourism was created. It is the utter responsibility of the Ministry of Tourism to formulate Tourism policy. The responsibility also includes expansion, marketing and support of both foreign and domestic tourism. The coordination and regulation of federal and provincial governments as well as private sector with regards to tourism sector are also few of the functions belong to this Ministry. Still there is need to have a paradigm shift in order to achieve positive outcomes. Within the overall set up the tourism wing of the ministry in collaboration with its field organizations are totally responsible for the development of the tourism industry. Ministry of Tourism and Pakistan tourism Development Corporation are the entities working in a collaborative way to further enhance the tourism sector in Pakistan. The menace of terrorism has affected the development of many sectors in the past.

Soon after this menace recedes in Pakistan, tourism appears to be an important industry. According to the report published by Bloomberg in 2016, more than thrice the number of international tourists travelled to Pakistan as compared to 2013. The data compiled by Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation also showed that international tourists have increased more than tripled since 2013 with almost 1.75 million in 2016. On the other hand the numbers of domestic tourists have also increased.  WTTC forecasted that Approximately 4.8 million people in Pakistan can be employed in the tourism industry by 2027. Covid 19 has impacted the tourism industry around the world. But efforts are in progress to save the future of this diversified sector. The federal government in Pakistan is in quest of introducing manifold initiatives in a bid to invigorate the tourism industry as well as to project a positive image of the country globally. This can only be possible through the use of modern means of communication. For this purpose PTDC is also focusing on the multi-faceted tourism.

In August 2020, PTDC has developed ‘Brand Pakistan’ with the help of international experts. The purpose of this initiative is to introduce the country as a tourism destination across the globe. Brand Pakistan has three main components which include brand identity development, musical score creation and an interactive e-portal. Pakistan is a diversified country with a great potential for tourism. Religious tourism is another aspect to explore this potential. Flourishing local religious tourism allows ancillary services to flourish. Kartarpur has the potential to become an efficient tourism enlargement vehicle. In post covid 19 world tourism industry will also be evolved. PTDC has worked on the strategy to mitigate the socioeconomic impact of covid 19 on the tourism industry of Pakistan. There is need to work on the pragmatic approach to achieve maximum benefits.

 

Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development and Chairman NTCB, Sayed Zulfikar Abbas Bukhari is emphasizing on promotion of tourism as a brand. It is his services for the tourism industry in Pakistan that Pakistan is all set to host two major international tourism events in next two years, Global Tourism Forum in 2021 and tourism summit of D-8 countries in 2022. Due to his efforts recently a five-star hotel in Chitral has been constructed. This hotel is an evident example of involvement of private sector in this industry as this hotel is being constructed by overseas Pakistani who pledged to invest around Rs 5 billion in tourism sector in Pakistan. Under his supervision nine working groups were shaped to help the NTCB, with each group allocated a precise thematic area for instance ‘Policy and Regulatory Reforms’, ‘Eco Tourism’, ‘Culture and Heritage Tourism’ and ‘Religious Tourism Working Group’. On his suggestions the current government chalked out an inclusive plan for tourism sector’s uplift in Gilgit Baltistan as it would guide a new era of development and prosperity in this area. For this initiative ten recreational areas have been identified for setting up tourism zones in the GB. This initiative will create employment opportunities for the people of the area. He also intends to transform PTDC hotels in the area into state-of-the-art facilities to improve domestic and foreign tourism in the country by offering better facilities to the tourists according to the international standards. The government has also formulated a policy of ten years to strengthen tourism in Pakistan.  A five years action plan has also been developed. 11 Integrated Tourism Zones are being set up in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and eight Zones are being recognized in Punjab to endorse tourism activities. He truly believes in promoting tourism as a national cause of Pakistan. He exactly knows that tourism is a lucrative sector and private sector should come forward to invest in this industry. He intends to further introduce short and long term plans to encourage tourism and main focus of these plans would be on inbound tourists as promotion of inbound tourism. The current government has removed NOC requirements for foreigners, indeed a big incentive for promoting tourism within the country. He is also working in the plan to further revamp PTDC in order to get more positive outcomes. Under his supervision a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between UNDP Pakistan and Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation to support eco-friendly and sustainable tourism leading to local economic development and youth empowerment in Pakistan. Many countries are interested to work with Pakistan in this particular industry and all this happened amid initiatives which have been taken to revamp the tourism industry in Pakistan.

 

 

 

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About Saima Zaman 30 Articles
Writer is the Assistant Editor ‘Mélange int’l Magazine’, ‘The Asian Telegraph’ & Project Coordinator (COPAIR); a degree holder in communication & media sciences.