An improvement in the ranking of Pakistan on the International Travel and Tourism Development Index shows that the country is heading in the right direction to explore its untapped potential in the tourism sector. Reportedly, Pakistan’s position has improved by six places as per the latest report released by the World Economic Forum (WEF). The tourism sector plays a significant part in the government’s efforts to achieve growth and create new jobs. Pakistan has tremendous potential for tourism by virtue of its long rich history, cultural diversity, geo-strategic position and captivating landscapes. There are many attractive areas like Hunza, Naran, Kaghaan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit-Baltistan where many tourists go and enjoy scenic beauty of the country. Undoubtedly, there is a lot of tourism potential in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and pro-active measures are required from the government side for facilitating the tourism industry. It must be kept in mind that a successful rejuvenation of tourism in Pakistan has the potential to positively impact the economy on a grand scale. The focus on uplifting tourism is evident in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as the number of tourists especially in summer is increasing every year. The ongoing CPEC projects along with a route passing through the northern areas of the country are going to link China with the international markets. It can prove a game changer as the setting up of hotels and other recreational activities will improve the living conditions of the locals. Given a certain degree of facilities and promotion, tourist sites would not be short of willing consumers to enjoy them.
The rich history of tourist sites surely would attract foreign tourists. It should not be surprising that foreign tourism is where the real money lies, and it would go a long way at catapulting Pakistan’s tourism industry to new levels of growth and development, while at the same time bringing foreign exchange into the country. The impact of a growing tourism industry would be multifaceted. First is the direct economic activity that it would generate by virtue of the work on reconstruction and rehabilitation of recreational sites. Then there is the direct revenue that would be generated by the tourist sites themselves, and this is where the main attraction for the private sector will lie. Tourist sites would naturally create jobs and this would provide the locals with a means for employment. Moreover, there is also a secondary industry that tourism would likely generate and here the locals would have the opportunity to be entrepreneurs rather than employees. Tourist sites create demand for souvenir shops, eateries, and local guides. These are areas that provide ample space for the locals to establish their own businesses. Of course, local participation needs to be promoted to get the most out of such opportunities. After all, tourism is not a luxury that only rich countries can afford; on the contrary it is the poor who are given a chance to break free from their cycle of poverty through the development of the tourism industry.