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Pamir Times

Published Date: Jul 5, 2013

On the death of Pakistan?s tourism industry

Despite of the fragile economic growth,
macroeconomic fluctuations and high unemployment, tourism sector in Pakistan
has been resilient over the recent years but many unprecedented national and
international tragedies caused an unaccounted loss to the tourism industry, and
now there is a question mark on the future of tourism industry in Pakistan,
especially after the recent barbaric killing of 10 foreign tourists at Nanga
Parbat Base camp Gilgit.

Tourism industry has an important role in job
creation at a time of extreme vulnerability and unemployment in many countries.
This sector accounts for 9% of the global GDP, a total of US$6 trillion and it
provides 120 million direct jobs and 125 million indirect jobs in related
industries. This means that the industry now accounts for one in eleven jobs of
the planet, this number could even rise to one in ten jobs by 2022, according
to World Travel & Tourism Council.

The number of travelers have been increased consistently
over the past year, despite of difficult economic climate and shrinking budget.
The UNWTO reports that international tourist arrivals grew by 4 percent in
2012, and forecasts that it will continue to increase by 3 to 4 percent in
2013.

In Pakistan Tourism is served as engine of
growth, because like exports it is a large source of earning foreign exchange
and served as a mean of combating unemployment and enhancing business
activates. Despite of its fragile economic and security conditions, earning
from this sector increased from 590 million in 1996 to 828 million in 2005;
according to the World Bank Data, which indicates a very slow growth. Overall,
Pakistan today is a small player in global tourism industry as compared to the
pre 9/11 period.

The total economic impact of 9/11 is
realistically immeasurable; however the world travel and tourism council has
estimated the decrease of the travel and tourism demand worldwide to be 10%.
This equates to the job loss of 8.8 million people globally including airlines,
hotels, tour operators, car rental and credit card companies, creating 1.7%
decreased of total GDP for the world economy.

Like other countries of the world, Pakistan has
also faced the same loss. Before 9/11, the number of tourist arrival to the
Pakistan was 0.557 million and 0.50 million in 2000 and 2001 respectively.
However this figure decreased to 0.498 million in 2002, which was after affect
of attack on World Trade Centre. During this period revenue receipts from
tourism industry in Pakistan decreased from 551 million to 533 million. During
the expansion period of 2003-2006, flow of tourism towards Pakistan returned to
its role of pacing employment growth by increase in flow of tourist arrivals to
0.898 million by contributing 919 million to country foreign reserves in 2006;
but no longer again it suffered a harsher loss after war on terror started in
2007 in Pakistan, which brought down the number of tourist arrivals to .82
million in 2008. Due to this war on terror international tourists have diverted
their way towards different countries of the world.

According to the recent rankings of travel and
tourism competitive index 2013 Switzerland, Germany and Australia ranked first,
second and third respectively while Pakistan is at 122nd in world
and is at 24th in Asia Pacific region.

The recent killing of mountaineer’s maligned the
image of Pakistan in international community, which will cause huge loss to
Pakistan tourism industry in future. Therefore Pakistan government has to take
steps to rebuild the trust otherwise this industry will be ruined, which will
cause huge loss to the country in terms of decrease in foreign exchange
reserves and unemployment of labor associated with this sector.

Pakistan being a developing country and rich in
both natural and historical beauty has a great potential to have a thriving
tourism industry. It would offer opportunities to the local people to engage
themselves in the tourism industry and make living standards. Most importantly
the flow of tourist in the country will assist the other economic sectors for a
positive balance of trade.

In order to bust-up tourism in the country government
of Pakistan should develop proper policy by empowering Tourism ministry, and
considering all the stake holders at the bottom; including Indigenous bodies
and Community Based Organizations (CBOs), to facilitate and making sure the
security of tourists.