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 PTDC and Chairman National Tourism board and under the Chairman, ten working groups, renovation of Swat, Chitral and Parachinar Airports. The recommendations of the ten working groups for new legislation might help to overcome the legal vacuum created after the passage of 18th Constitutional Amendment.
Last week meeting of Chairman Pakistan Tourism Board with Sikh businessmen and gurdwara’s around the world and taking commitment of investment 500 million pounds for develop religious tourism, with focus on Sikh places, in Pakistan is by all means and very encouraging step to give boost to religious tourism in Pakistan.
The good point is that meeting was organised by the Central Gurdwara London supported by a renowned Sikh businessman, discussed religious tourism projects in Pakistan.
To mark the occasion of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, Chairman made a series of commitments regarding visas for religious reasons, raising the numbers from 500 to 5,000 in the next six months; from 15 days to 30 days; lifting travel restrictions to visit other parts of Pakistan and the possibility of visas online and visas on arrival. All these measure are imperative for healthy religious tourism atmosphere.
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.§