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Obstacles to tourism promotion

PRIME Minister Imran Khan has said Pakistan offers best tourism attractions in the world ranging from beach, mountain and desert tourism. Addressing a tourism summit in Islamabad on Wednesday, he said Pakistan has virgin coastal belt in Balochistan, but it is unfortunate that our elite prefer visiting Europe and Western countries instead of exploring our own land.
There are no two opinions that Pakistan has immense potential to attract tourists from across the globe because of its captivating landscape, ancient civilization, diverse cultural heritage and historic places. Tourism is one of the most rapidly growing industries in the world and many states are earning hugely by developing their tourism industry on modern lines. Tourism constitutes ten percent of the GDP and it has become a vital means for income generation, job creation, poverty alleviation, foreign exchange earnings and promotion of cross-culture understanding and cooperation. Despite these advantages, we could not focus due attention on exploiting the true potential of the country in this regard. Tourism development is linked to transportation, communication, hospitality, catering, entertainment, advertising and most importantly security and law and order situation. One of the reasons that affected our tourism industry has been security issues especially because of terrorism and extremism that led to issuance of travel warnings by many countries to their citizens. The situation has improved tremendously, thanks to the hard work and sacrifices of our defence forces and police and almost all areas of the country are now safe and open to all types of tourists. The Government has also introduced a new visa system for all those who want to travel to Pakistan and this would surely help boost the tourism sector. However, it may be pointed out that we are still lagging behind too much in terms of easy access to tourist spots and hill stations and provision of quality services for tourists. This objective cannot be achieved without close coordination between the Federal and the provincial governments concerned. While private sector would be more than willing to invest in profitable ventures like hospitality and entertainment, it is responsibility of the governments concerned to ensure construction of best quality and all weather roads, provision of uninterrupted electricity, supply of water, promoting soft image of the country and provision of incentives to the private sector.