It may be hard to remember now, but there was a time when Pakistan was an important tourist destination. In the 1960s and 1970s, we were part of the acclaimed hippie trail when backpackers from...
It may be hard to remember now, but there was a time when Pakistan was an important tourist destination. In the 1960s and 1970s, we were part of the acclaimed hippie trail when backpackers from Europe would cross the Khyber Pass and make their way through Peshawar, Chitral and Karachi. Now, ranked by the World Economic Forum’s Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index, we are 122 out of 140 tourism countries. That is actually an improvement of three ranking points compared to the last year, but if this is a victory for us, it is purely a pyrrhic. Even there are many reasons for the decline of tourism, the country’s dismal security situation is a big factor that is deterring foreigners from experiencing the best that the country has to offer.
What is even worse is that our governments have hardly paid attention to this important issue. On the other hand, there are some internal problems as well that the country needs to look into. A majority of our museums are virtually empty because our heritage has been looted by private collectors who can easily smuggle items out of the country or exhibit them at home. The ancient civilizations of Mohenjo Daro and Harappa have not received the attention of the government and are, therefore, crumbling before our eyes. It took the government more than 10 years to submit a list of heritage sites to Unesco so that it could receive funds for their repair and maintenance. Even then, it left out many Mughal palaces, forts and tombs. A separate tourism ministry was established in 2004 to promote tourism in the country, but almost 10 years later it is safe to say that it has not been a success at all.