Written by ch. Faisal Mehmood
The present government as per the expectation moving step by step towards better tourism policies, procedures and planning. The PM from day first recognized Tourism for its economic social and diplomatic values and promised to correct whatever and wherever the wrong was done by the absence of a federal tourism administration.
The creation of the high level Task Force and as per their suggestion removal of all bottlenecks in the way of tourism promotion and develop and after that formation of a 25-member National Tourism Coordination Board (NTCB) having representatives from federal ministries, provincial departments and people from the private sector tourism industry are all positive steps towards right direction.
Now in a major step forward the KP government has inaugurated the first-ever mobile App and tourism logo to facilitate domestic and foreign tourists during their visit to scenic places of the province. The KP government appears to be very vibrant tourism-wise and by introducing mobile App service they have an edge on other provincial governments & tourism organizations. We must appreciate and admit they way KP government working hard for the promotion tourism in the province.
Tourism, a borderless phenomenon is on the rise world wild. In 2018 there were record 1.4bn international tourist arrivals. It does mean tourism is playing an increasingly important role in the global economy. In 2018, it was worth about $1.7tn or about 2% of total global GDP. Even the UNWTO is struggling to keep up, with current figures vastly exceeding expectations. In 1950 there were 25m international tourist visits, rising to 166m in 1970, and 435m in 1990.
Zikodem Szumilo, Associate Professor of economics and finance of the built environment at UCL, says the growth of the global tourist industry is partly due to the rise of digital services. “The most recent development in the industry was a small revolution of online reviews and online bookings which reduced prices but increased satisfaction,” he says. “This means that more people travel more often.”
This also means that the step towards digitalization of tourism in the province of KP will definitely give boost to tourism activities in the province.
The tourists through this new mobile App can get data regarding tour operators, hotels, restaurants booking, trekking and backpacking spots, tourist resorts, lakes, weather condition, archaeological, adventure, religious and cultural tourism sites and contact numbers of all tourism relevant departments. The App is completely free and users-friendly with a number specification.
However to attract 10 million foreign tourists and to fetch 10 billion dollars to the province is a very difficult target to achieve. The government needs to improve infrastructure drastically which also needs time and resources and the keen participation of the private sector particularly the hospitality sector.
All this is very encouraging for us and for our tourism industry which has suffered unabated external problems since the revolutions in Afghanistan and Iran, followed by the aftermath of what is generally referred to as 9/11. There are several things that need to be done immediately to rescue and re-develop Tourism in our country but, for the present; we are suggesting only one crucial and catalytic step the existing tourism development corporations in the provinces should be elevated into provincial Tourism Boards with full autonomous and proactive functioning.