Saturday October 16, 2021

British backpackers laud Pakistan’s tourism potential

May 06, 2019

A group of seven backpackers from the United Kingdom who were upcountry exploring the scenic splendour and the teeming tourism potential of Pakistan spoke of their experiences and their views about how the government should go about exploiting this potential.

They were mighty impressed by what Pakistan had to offer in terms of scenic wonders and landscapes. They were addressing the academia, the media and those involved in the travel and tourism business at the Institute of Business Administration (IBA, City Campus) on Saturday afternoon.

They said that if this tourism potential were to be globally marketed, it would greatly contribute to the softening of Pakistan’s image worldwide. Their only compliant was accessing these places on account of the lack of adequate road network and appropriate accommodation.

Samuel Joynson, one of the group’s members, said that tourism was a labour-intensive industry and the more impetus it was given, the more it would benefit the Pakistani economy. Besides, Joynson said, the development of the tourism industry would benefit the local people too in the form of adequate livelihood. “Besides, it would instill in the host country a sense of pride and would help preserve the centuries-old cultural and historical heritage,” he said.

There were concerns, he said, about safety and personal security, especially in case of solo female tourists. Claudia Dorbez talked about the way Georgia had brushed up its tourism potential and was now ranked as the fourth best tourist destination globally. She recounted how the government there had invested in new airports, thus providing access to tourists. Other things, she said, what Georgia had done in this regard was programmes to increase awareness about the country and revamping the tourism infrastructure. Awareness should, she said, focus on the natural beauty and culture of the country.

Joynson said that as far as marketing Pakistan to the foreign traveller was concerned, it should aim to attract the adventure travel segment. Western travel adventures were a highly valuable segment of Pakistan’s tourism marketing, he said and called for social media marketing, traditional advertising channels (billboards, print media and TV), and documentaries. He said Pakistan’s mountain scenery was idyllic beyond imagination and full use of this extremely important possession should be made.

Sarah Whitlam cited the example of the Chinese tourist. “He’s seeking history, religion and natural beauty. As such, the Pakistani tourism authorities, when catering to Chinese tourists, must keep this in mind.”

Joynson said that first and foremost, awareness about Pakistan should be created among potential visitors. “Pakistan should develop and build mid-range hotels.” He however warned about over-tourism in places like Naran (Kaghan) and Hunza.

Pakistan should also develop an aviation strategy and also a network strategy that builds a strong hub for the PIA. “It should also be ensured that airport restrictions do not impact on commercial activities,” he said.

There were slides of idyllic scenery of the mountain regions of Pakistan, like Satpara Lake in Skardu, The Rakaposhi Peak in the Karrakorams and Lake Saiful Malook near Naraan (Himalayas).