M. Yahya Polani | Chairman Polani Group

This year World Tourism Day 2017 is being celebrated under the theme of,‘Sustainable Tourism – a Tool for Development’, through which United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) intends to highlight tourism’s role in bringing the cultures of the world together and promoting global understanding through sustainable tourism.

As we celebrate World Tourism Day this year, first of all i would like to record my appreciation for Holiday Weekly for keeping our tourism flag high even in very difficult times.

Last week the 22nd UNWTO General Assembly in Chengdu-China approved the historic document ‘The UNWTO Framework Convention on Tourism Ethics’, the first in the life of the organization. The convention covers the responsibilities of all stakeholders in the development sustainable tourism, providing a framework that recommends an ethical and sustainable tourism for all, including the right to tourism, the freedom of movement for tourists and the rights of employees and professionals.

This is an opportunity for all of us, who are directly involve in this travel to reaffirm our commitment to make things work for the development of tourism in Pakistan. It comes as no surprise that tourism has become the world’s largest business. The destinations worldwide welcomed 598 million international tourists in the first six months of 2017, some 36 million more than in the same period of 2016.

Pakistan has just the right sets of geographical, historical and cultural assets to make it a preferred Destination for Special Interest tourists anywhere in the world. And it was!

In the first three decades, we had voluminous foreign arrivals not only by air but also by road from Europe via Iran and Afghanistan but the political upheavals in those countries dried up that traffic. The 9/11 event did more damage to our foreign arrivals, so much so that some of our very senior and world famous tour operators had to close shops. Even today the external negatives continue to discourage tourist arrivals.

But we are not pessimistic about our Tourism. We must remain undaunted by the present difficulties and proceed towards a better future by rebuilding our Tourism in three stages. We must add substantially to Domestic Tourism with special attention to our youth, encouraging and facilitating their inter-provincial sightseeing. With improved security situation our Northern Areas have wonderful domestic season this year.

Our provincial governments are doing good jobs of developing infrastructure and facilitating promotional events by private sector stakeholders. We need to double our efforts at building up the Gorakh Hill Resort and at modernizing and expanding the facilities at the Kheenjhar Lake. The situation in Karachi is also for more better to encourage city sightseeing by transit passengers at the Quaid-e-Azam International Airport, which still receives the largest number of foreign arrivals.

Here i would like say one more thing which is that that devolution of the tourism sector to the provinces have proved, up till now a wrong decision by our law maker and I would suggest that tourism should and must go back under the federal government and there should be a centralized approach, planning and a strategy for the promotion of domestic and international tourism for the benefit of our country-Pakistan Zindabad.

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