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Tourism is one of the most rapidly growing industries in the world, which accounts

for 10 per cent of the global GDP. It is an important means of income generation, job
creation, poverty reduction, foreign exchange earnings and promotion of crosscultural understanding and cooperation.
According to the World Tourism Organization, global receipts from tourism in 2002
were as high as $474 billion, which are likely to exceed $1.5 trillion by 2010. Region
wise Europe accounts for 50 per cent of world tourism receipts followed by the
Americas whose share is 26 per cent. However, the share of South Asia in global
tourism receipts is only 1 per cent. The number of international tourists in 2002 was
715 million as against 693 million in 2001. This means international tourism
registered growth notwithstanding the 9/11 incident and recession in major
economies of the world.
Tourism
comprises
several
service
activities
including
transportation,
communication, hospitality, catering, entertainment and advertising. It is on the
quality of these services that the effectiveness of tourism promotion efforts
depends.
Pakistan has tremendous potential for tourism by virtue of its long rich history,
cultural diversity, geo-strategic position and captivating landscapes. The tourism
products offered by the country can be categorized into four types: religious
tourism, archaeological and historical tourism, adventure tourism and conventional
tourism. A brief account of these is given as under:
Religious tourism: Pakistan is the crucible of two of the great religions of the world
Hinduism and Buddhism-and cradle of another, Sikhism. Gurdwaras at Nankana
Sahib and Hasanabdal are a great attraction for Sikhs all over the globe. Then there
are shrines of Sufis and saints, which attract a large number of pilgrims from
different regions. These include the shrines of Data Ganj Bakhsh, Shah Hussain,
Mian Mir, Bahauddin Zakaria and Baba Farid in Punjab, and Lal Shahbaz Qalandar
and Shah Abdul Latif Bhattai in Sindh.
Archaeological tourism
Pakistan is the cradle of two ancient civilizations-the Indus Valley Civilisation and
the Gandhara Civilisation. In particular, the excavations of the Gandhara civilization
represent one of the oldest remains of the Buddhist culture in Asia and are of
special spiritual significance for the Buddhists living in the affluent regions of East
and South East Asia. Then there are monuments built by successive dynasties and
rulers, particularly the Mughals. These include the Royal Fort, Badshahi Mosque,
Shalimar Garden, Tombs of Emperor Jehangir and Empress Noor Jehan, Rohtas Fort
and the Shah Jahan Mosque.

Adventure tourism
Pakistan has some of the worlds highest mountains in a knot of four great mountain
ranges, the Hindu Kush, Pamir, Karakoram and the Himalayas. The country has the

distinction of having five peaks above 8,000 meters each including the second
loftiest mountain of K-2. The country also has the largest glaciers on the globe
outside the polar region. These mountains and glaciers offer a tremendous
attraction for adventurers.

Conventional tourism: This form of tourism includes festivals, sports, customs,


traditions and arts and crafts. Among the festivals, basant is arguably the most
popular from international tourism perspective. Celebrated in February-March to
herald the spring, basant attracts a large number of foreign tourists.
Thus Pakistans share in both global tourist arrivals and receipts is less than 1 per
cent, while its share in South Asian tourist arrivals in only 9 per cent.
The poor tourism performance of Pakistan can be attributed to the following
factors:
(1) Arguably, the greatest obstacle to the growth of tourism is the law and order
situation. During last one decade, Pakistan has been subject to religious and
ethnic violence in which a number of foreigners have been targeted. The bad
law and order situation has told upon various sectors of the economy
including tourism. There are also many instances where tourists have been
physically assaulted, robbed and sexually harassed. Any such incident reflects
badly on the country and creates a negative image of it.
(2) Though Pakistan has one of the most attractive physical environments in the
world its social environment is not much tourism friendly. While on a foreign
land, tourists want best value for their money. They look for an environment
in which they can enjoy themselves to the full. This is possible only if all the
ingredients of enjoyment are present with the least invasion of privacy. This
does not mean that we should completely abandon our cultural values.
However, we should strike a balance between our values and the demand of
the international consumer. In particular, piracy of foreign tourists should be
fully respected.
(3) Pakistan does not have a good international image. Rather there are many places
where the countrys image is one of intolerance, extremism, insecurity, superstitions, and
diseases. Image building is a matter of both perception and reality. The reality in
Pakistan is not as bad as the perception of it. Therefore, besides improving the tourism
environment, there is a great need to erase the negative perception about the country.
This is primarily the responsibility of Pakistans missions abroad.
(4) The tourism sector lacks of market-oriented approach. Consumers differ in their needs
and tastes and have different levels of satisfaction. The same can be applied to tourism.
Tourists intending to visit Pakistan for pilgrimage have different needs from tourists
visiting to celebrate the basant festival. Therefore, there is little sense in offering the
same package to all tourists. Instead, tourism packages have to be adapted to tourists,
peculiar needs and tastes. This means that the foremost job of tourism promotion
agencies is to identify target markets, study their tastes and needs and then offer
tourism products that satisfy the same. The language and content of the promotional
material and campaign should also be tailored to tourists needs and interests. For

instance, there is a large potential market of East Asian tourists for the Buddhist
heritage. What is needed is proper marketing by Pakistan Tourism Development
Corporation and the countrys commercial representatives in the region to attract these
potential tourists. This no doubt is a laborious task but it is worth doing, because a
market-oriented strategy is essential to tourism promotion.

(5) Communication and hospitality infrastructure is in need of up gradation. Bad roads, flight
cancellation and delays, lack of connectivity to various locations, and deficient
communication facilities are among the factors that discourage tourists. As for
accommodation, there are many places where hotels are either non-existent or do not
offer value-added services.

(6) Tourism has largely been given a short shrift by the government. The government
has not been alive to the immense opportunities that this sector of the economy
offers. That is why government actions have been reactive rather than pro-active,
particularly when it comes to giving incentives to other stakeholders including
travel agencies and the hospitality industry. Since tourism is a heavy investment
area, it cannot be entirely left to the public sector. The private sector must be
encouraged to play its role in tourism promotion through tariff and tax relief and
availability of low interest finance.