Managing Director, Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) Aftab Ur Rehman Rana has said that the country’s tourism industry, currently estimated at $ 2.5 billion may touch the $4 billion mark in next four years.
The government was doing all to promote tourism and generate more employment opportunities for youth in Pakistan, he told a TV news channel.
Currently, over 300,000 jobs were created through the tourism industry which would further increase to 500,000 in coming years, he added.
"The promotion of tourism will not only create economic activity in the local areas, but also have a positive impact on the national economy," he said. The contribution rate of the tourism industry to Pakistan's GDP was 5%, which would swell to 7%, he added.
Tourism was not just about attractive destinations and leisure activities, but it had emerged as one of the fundamental pillars of economic development and had one of the highest job-creating potentials across all sectors of the country, Aftab said.
The tourism ministry was taking a keen interest in promoting Pakistani culture, adventure and religious tourism in the country and adopting measures to revamp the infrastructure and ensure all the required facilities for the tourists, he added.
With the public-private partnership, more destinations were being identified and developed. The historic and religious places were being refurbished and preserved, roads and motorways leading to tourist destinations were being built, and new hotels and accommodations were being set up, he said.
He said that the government was facilitating private tour operators, who would participate in five major tourism expos next year to promote the soft image of Pakistan at international forums.
He stressed the need for bringing improvement in aviation policy to control high airline fares, adding there was a dire need to allow neighbouring countries' airlines in the country to promote competitive fares.
Replying to a question about the recent flood's effects on tourism-related infrastructure, he said it would take up to three years to recover.
He said Pakistan was among the top few countries which were facing the highest risk of disasters due to global warming and climate change. Many heritage sites had faced serious damage while many natural landscapes in tourist areas had eroded.
To another question, he said the PTDC held a two-day conference in Islamabad to mark World Tourism Day, celebrated every year on September 27.
Experts from the tourism industry participated in five panel discussions to discuss topics including restoration of tourism after floods and widespread rains, removing bottlenecks to promote foreign tourism, issues and challenges of mountaineering and trekking tourism in the country, he added.
Credit: Independent News Pakistan-WealthPk