WRITTEN BY CH. FAISAL MAHMOOD
AS per the expectation from the new government; particularly from Mr. Khan, who recognized Tourism for its economic social and diplomatic values and promised to correct the wrongs done by the absence of a federal tourism administration.
The high level Task Force constituted by the Prime Minister has suggested the ways and means to develop tourism and to remove bottlenecks in the way of tourism promotion and develop.
By taking major step forward on the recommendations of Task Force Now the Federal Government has approved the formation of a 25-member National Tourism Coordination Board (NTCB) having representatives from federal ministries, provincial departments and people from the private sector tourism industry.
The main propose of the NTCB will be to enhance coordination between federation and provinces, formulate provincial regulatory framework, and highlighting other objectives including the promotion of the country’s tourism at an international level.
AS we have been highlighting and demanding the government finally decided that the Pakistan Tourism Development Coordination (PTDC) would be reorganised and would serve as the NTCB secretariat.
Khan appeared to be very focus on religious tourism, adventure tourism, cultural, historic and archaeological tourism, Trans-Himalaya tourism, infrastructure and facilitation, regulatory and policy reforms, investment and tourism branding.
The decision of the to turn Bala Hissar Fort in Peshawar into a tourism site is th e clear hint that government has taken tourism seriously- at least tourism at last.
All this is very encouraging for us and for the for our tourism industry which has suffered unabated external problems since the revolutions in Afghanistan and Iran, followed by the aftermath of what is generally referred to as 9/11. These aside, the deepest wound inflicted upon our tourism industry came from within Pakistan – when the unthinking Rabbani Committee removed the Concurrent List altogether from our Constitution. The resultant vacuum has removed Pakistan from the wide and vibrant world of Tourism.
There are several things that need to be done immediately to rescue and re-develop Tourism in our country but, for the present; we are suggesting only one crucial and catalytic step, which is; to have Tourism restored to the federal government as a concurrent responsibility.
This may be done by founding a Pakistan Tourism Authority to function in the Prime Minister’s Secretariat as an autonomous corporation with financial and regulatory responsibilities, functioning as did the Pakistan Industrial Development Corporation in the 1960s. The existing tourism development corporations in the provinces should be elevated into provincial Tourism Boards with similar autonomous and proactive functioning.
We have high hopes and strong believe about the future, for we know that our youth has a much better awareness of Tourism, its economic and social values and also what can actually be done to promote it in his/her country.¡