Be it the local or international tourists, solo travelers, families, backpackers, or travel bloggers – Pakistan has not seen such improvement in tourism in at least the last three decades. Without doubt, one key factor in boosting tourist-related activities has been the improving security situation in the country. Apart from that, the PTI government has been seen active on this front as well. The government’s five-year tenure includes efforts from simplifying visa regimes for many countries and promoting religious tourism to renovating and refurbishing hotels resorts and guest houses and developing new destinations.
While these efforts – and many others like CPEC boosting tourism – might look significant in turning things around for tourism in the country, there still is a long road ahead for improvement and for making tourism a real contributor to the economy. The country continues to fight myriad challenges while promoting tourism – a reminder of which has been summarised in WEF’s The Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2019.
According to the report, Pakistan not only ranks at 121 out of 140 countries in T&T Competitiveness Index 2019 overall rankings, but also remains the least competitive country in South Asia when it comes to travel and tourism. Along the 14 key pillars of T&T Competitiveness Index, Pakistan’s also stood as the region’s least favourable country for safety and security conditions despite the improvement in the security situation in the country. The only notable improvement was seen along human resource and labour market sub-index. However, even after that, it stood at 135th rank out of 141 for HR and labour market pillar.
Much has been said about the country’s potential for tourism be it its mountain ranges, scenic valleys, Mughal heritage, ancient civilisation, religious history, long coastal belt, its culture of cuisine. But all this will not make the cut for local and foreign tourists and investors if Pakistan continues to be labelled a terrorist financing country; or if its metropolitan cities continue to top the charts as the least liveable cities around the world.
Besides, human resource capacity building in the tourism sector as well as country’s brand building will go a long way in fixing the nuts and bolts of the tourism sector. Furthermore, there is a need to address other aspects of prime importance for travelers and tourists like tourist facilitation and assistance; and access to standard amenities, transport, communication and infrastructure – most of which still are at suboptimal standards when compared to the global tourist hot spots and regional melting pots!