Green investments in tourist destinations urged

September 28, 2023

Islamabad:Speakers at a seminar urged the authorities and the tourism management companies to prioritise green investments on services and infrastructure at the tourist destinations across the country. Using non-timber fuel, alternate energy, water conservation, solid waste management and environment friendly practices shall be promoted to ensure sustainable eco-tourism.

The seminar was organised by the Devcom-Pakistan, ICLC and National Skills University (NSU) here on Wednesday to mark the World Tourism Day, themed on “Tourism and Green Investments”. The managing director Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) Aftab ur Rehman Rana was the chief guest. The guest speakers included Vice Chancellor NSU Prof. Dr. Muhammad Mukhtar, President Rural Development Foundation (RDF) Brig (r) Muhammad Khan, Devcom-Pakistan Executive Director Munir Ahmed, Secretary ICLC Sibtain Raza, CEO Apex Adnan Saeed, Sumera Raza and Rana Tariq Javed.

The managing director Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) Aftab ur Rehman Rana said that Pakistan’s tourism and hospitality industry contributes 3.5 per cent to the country’s GDP. Most of which is contributed by the domestic tourism that has flourished in recent years. About 6.5 million people are directly or indirectly engaged in the industry. This is quite unfortunate that only a few know or are willing to invest in the green practices.

The federal government has taken the provincial authorities on-board to ensure sustainable ecotourism models, Rana said adding, more awareness campaigns and stakeholders’ engagement is desired to control the undue interventions. Prof. Dr. Muhammad Mukhtar urged the youth to travel across the heavenly land of Pakistan that is full of diverse culture and landscape. Outdoor is an open book that makes the travellers learn about the cultural and heritage assets of the country.

Devcom-Pakistan Executive Director Munir Ahmed urged the authorities to control the damage to the green cover that is being done by the environment, unfriendly structures, housing societies, timber mafia, littering and unmanaged solid waste. Local communities are the main stakeholder of the tourist destinations. They shall come up to form their associations to raise voice against the exploitation of their homelands.

Munir Ahmed said Pakistan has immense potential to spread the hospitality and tourism industry to 50-70 per cent of the GDP. It would create a mess if the full potential is realized without any green investments and nature conservation. Authorities shall take stern actions against the vested interests of the mafias, illegal and undue structures and mushroom growth of housing societies and hospitality outlets. We have many policies that remain unimplemented.

Brig (r) Muhammad Aslam supported the idea of community-based tourism in their own locally managed houses. So that the visitors could learn about the life they live, hardships and their culture. It would add more to the livelihood of the locals without compromising the natural resources. The World Tourism Day highlights the need for more and better-targeted traditional and non-traditional investments are required for People, for Planet and for Prosperity, to enable tourism to deliver on its massive potential to provide opportunities for people, to build resilient, to accelerate climate action and greater sustainability for the planet and deliver inclusive prosperity around the pillars of innovation and entrepreneurship.

UNWTO has identified investments as a key priority for the sector, serving as the bridge between its Member States, destinations, businesses and investors, culminating in World Tourism Day 2023, which calls to action to the international community, governments, multilateral financial institutions, development partners and private sector investors to unite around a new tourism investment strategy.