ISLAMABAD: To highlight the issues faced by Pakistan tourism industry and to suggest their solutions to promote both, domestic and international tourism of Pakistan, a National Tourism Conference ‘Discover Pakistan’ was organized at Serena Islamabad hotel on April 24.
Apparently a multi-stakeholder effort, the conference was well attended by the Government Officials, Diplomats, International Community, Tour Operators, Travel Agents, Hoteliers, Airline representatives and many others associated with the industry but not Holiday Weekly, the most important segment of Pakistan travel, hotel, tourism and aviation industry. Holiday Weekly, popularly known as the Voice of Pakistan tourism industry is the winner of ‘Friend of Pakistan’ title in 1992 is consistently and continuously raising all the those issues and problems through its news, views and editorial for last 40 years.
The objectives of the conference were to carry forward the conversation on opportunities and challenges facing the Pakistan tourism industry and think about solutions; create a lasting collaborative relationship among industry actors to strengthen the industry; and engage the Government with the results of this initiative to build a lasting public-private partnership between industry operators and the Federal and Provincial Governments.
The conference began with a welcome address by Aziz Boolani, CEO Serena Hotels,he said, “The Pakistan tourism industry has an important role to play in both economic development of the country and the sustainable management of resources.
The industry has an excellent asset base in Pakistan’s spectacular ecological, historical, and cultural offerings.
It has the potential to provide far more employment for youth and economic development for communities than it does currently. This conference was about how Government and Tourism industry statekholders can work together to make tourism reach its full potential.”
The speakers in the inaugural session included Mr. Anthony Cholst, Acting Country Director, the World Bank, Ms. Vibeke Jensen and UNESCO Representative to Pakistan.
The first session of the conference addressed Pakistan’s Tourism Resources and Potential. Panellists included Mahmood Akhtar Cheema, IUCN who gave a brief presentation of Pakistan’s Ecological and Landscape Attractions; followed by Ms. Salima Hashmi, Educationist, spoke of Contemporary Diversity and Material Culture in Pakistan; subsequently Aftab ur Rehman Rana, STFP presented the various possibilities of National Tourism Policies and session concluded with Sheikh Ansar Aziz, Mayor of Islamabad who highlighted the importance of Destination Branding.
The second panel discussion focussed on Provincial Tourism Potential and Strategies where the Secretary Tourism for Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan, KPK, Gilgit Baltistan and Azad Kashmir shared the unique aspects of tourism in their areas.
The third discussion addressed The Way Forward lead by Mustansir Zakir, Chairman PHA, then Sajjad Shah,Chairman PATO suggested key challenges and opportunities followed byMr Hanif Rinch,Ex-Chairman TAAP who shared the roadmap for future of travel industry and discussion concluded with Sami Baig District Manager PIA and Arshad Ali from PTDC discussing the challenges.