WRITTEN BY Ch. FAISAL MAHMOOD
Readers would have seen from these pages that tourism stakeholders in all countries in Europe, South America even in African Continent are united and welded into a single regional profile, combined in unity of purpose and strengthened financially from their cumulative resources, they are promoting their tourism products very effectively some years and now, right in the heart of the affluent market of outbound tourists all over the world.
We off & on also carry reports on how member countries of ASEAN are benefitting from the combined strength of a Regional Posture; that countries in East Asia are the new hub of world tourist traffic is owed in no small measure to the combined promotion and development by ASEAN. Tourism industries in the Arab world, similarly grouped in the GCC, have their Arab Travel Mart to promote their inbound and outbound tourism commerce. Countries in Central Asia have their ECO and its private sector trade body which is laboring consistently to promote their tourism products and to develop their human resources for modern management.
We in South Asia, despite the formal and now long standing structure – secretariat, committees and councils etcetera – our decades old Regional Posture remains prisoner to our eastern neighbour’s Size Imperialism.
Some time things look improving for SAARC Tourism but than just one incident or a statement push the things back to square one. Deferring is not only the bilateral tourism but also the opening up of the whole Region to healthy flow of tourist traffic which, politicians must understand, is critical to the achievement of SAARC objectives. Unfortunately, what does not work between India and Pakistan does not work for the other countries in the region also.
A ray of hope is the positive tone in which the first SCO tourism ministerial meeting held in Wuhan, China, where member states connected in areas such as of history, culture and civilization. Sports and medical tourism decided to cooperate with Pakistan.
During first tourism ministerial meeting the delegates from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, India, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan proposed deepening cooperation on tourism exchanges with other member states.
Given politicians’ better sense of responsibility to the future of Pakistan’s regional tourism with South Asia, China and Central Asia, we may yet develop collectively and individually into countries vibrantly touristic with a Regional Posture of high profile.