WRITTEN BY CH FAISAL MAHMOOD
There are reasons why we have such enduring and in-depth faith in our country and in its future as the world’s major tourist destination; one such reason is that positive developments do somehow emerge, sooner or later, sometime unexpectedly, sometimes awaitedly, to re-set our path to real progress.
Suddenly, when the nation is pressed under several macro and micro issues, both internal and external, affecting all and sundry, we have this Prime Ministerial decision to appoint a Chairman National Tourism board and ten working groups. Their recommendations for new legislation might help to overcome the legal vacuum created after the passage of 18th Constitutional Amendment.
We have often taken this space to draw attention to the vacuum in Islamabad which denied us our due place in the world tourism bodies and their events. This absence has cost us all the more by denying us a federal posture, ‘in these difficult times’.
Sweeping deletion of the Concurrent List from our Constitution, in the name of provincial autonomy, was, to say the least, most unmindful. It removed the instrument of national co-ordination within and a unified posture outside our country. We have no dispute with provincial autonomy; in fact we maintain that tourist products emerge and develop better from local awareness and local effort and also that tourism-generated local pride promotes, binds and sustains communities. We stress only a national posture, a federal delivery mechanism for the international tourism organizations to notice us, count us, invite us and to hear and heed us; they do not and cannot count provinces.
Tourism in Pakistan has always been there but until recently this sector was given little importance. The major reason for that was Afghan war and its longer lasting adverse effect on our tourism. The current government is lucky enough that security situation is very good now –if not ideal. The government has recognized the social and economic importance tourism industry now they should try their best to develop this industry as a major economic driver for the country.
Here we urge the new tourism set up in Islamabad to restore Tourism to concurrent federal responsibility and make it possible for the government to found the national tourism authority to swiftly catch up with lost time and to proceed, within the country and abroad, with giving Pakistan its due place among the prized tourist destinations of the world.
We do commend the significant measures taken by all major stakeholders and for saying the same as above in different words for the sake of tourism Pakistan.§