WRITTEN BY CH. FAISAL MEHMOOD
There was a time not too long ago when it was unbecoming of a diplomat to even mention matters of commerce in his host country; now diplomacy and diplomats are promoting their countries’ tourism, culture&commerce – and very rightly so.
Our readers would have noted the promotional activities which our guest diplomats engage in – presenting their products and cultures etcetera – thus creating positive images of their countries and generating bilateral trades and investments.
In our twenty-first century world, visibility is the base for promotion – be it destination promotion or product promotion.As things keep improving in our tourism industry, howsoever slowly, we have been looking forward to our diplomatic missions abroad to take upthe promotion of our cultural assets and products in their host countries. These expectations have been the more pronounced in view of the present government’s profile of being business-friendly.
We suggest the federal government to open more trade missions abroad, whose mandate clearly is to ‘promote exports and to secure market access for Pakistani commodities and services’ – itssoft image and tourist products not excluded!
We feel that establishing trade missions abroad is an essential long term investment which should not be suffered to short term approaches. In fact, those assigned to these missions – assuming that they are selected correctly – should be given time to find and establish their way in the local environment of who is good for what, to be effective there for Pakistan.
As our tourism industry is picking up, we urge the government to look into the current work culture in international marketing and review its policy towards trade missions. One option is to appoint honorary consuls in strategic and semi strategic cities abroad. Here we are reminded of such appointments made abroad by Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation in its days of usefulness to destination promotion of Pakistan. But the federal government is – at best – recalcitrant on the issue of reviving federal and concurrent responsibility of tourism.¡