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Pakistan’s tourism largely unexploited

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Tourism including travel provided about $7.6 billion to Pakistan’s economy in 2016. Travel and tourism is one of the largest industries in the with global economic share including direct, indirect and induced of over $7.6 trillion in 2016.The direct economic impact of the industry, including accommodation, transportation, entertainment and attractions, was about $2.3 trillion. Many countries like France and the United States are well famed tourist destinations, but other smaller -known countries are speedily rising to economic gains of the industry. Across the world, the tourism industry has witnessed even level growth nearly every year. International tourist arrivals accelerated from 528 million in 2005 to 1.19 billion in 2015. It is forecasted that the figure will outstrip 1.8 billion by 2030. Every year, Europe receives the largest number of international tourists. It also generates the largest number of travelers with roughly 607 million tourists leaving in 2015, more than twice as against to the second highest origin like the Asia-Pacific region.
To encourage tourism Pakistan announces e-visa facility for 175 countries, visa-on-arrival for 50 countries. Nevertheless, it is unfortunate that tourist numbers in Pakistan hang around an appalling 2 million per annum on average, which extensively consists domestic tourists. China and India, which lure approximately 60 million and 10 million tourists on average respectively. Universally, the tourism industry constitutes almost 10 percent of the world GDP while its share in Pakistan is justly 2.7 percent of GDP. This depicts that the tourism industry is operating way below its capacity and has greater capacity to increase, create jobs and create revenue for the country. Tourist traffic at cultural sites in Pakistan has observed a massive increase of 317 percent over the past five years with Punjab’s share being almost 95 percent. The report Cultural Heritage and Museum Visits in Pakistan by Gallup Pakistan, a research organization associated with Gallup International Association, shows that tourism could be a possible game changer that could reinvigorate the troubled economy of the country. Tourism at cultural sites has witnessed a massive increase since 2014. From about 1.6 million visits in 2014, the tourist traffic at cultural sites rose to 6.6million visits in 2018, a 317 percent increase in a period of five years. Punjab, as the largest and most populated province, contributed approximately 95 percent on the other hand tourist traffic in Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa changed over the years. A Gallup Pakistan report shows that tourism could be a potential game changer for country’s fighting economy. The tourist traffic in KP and Balochistan has also witnessed a similar inclination at its museum sites, whereas in Punjab and Sindh, the number of visits at museum sites changed over the years. Overall the provinces registered maximum number of visits in 2018. Overall visits by foreigners increased by twice for both cultural and museum sites in Pakistan. Above the past five years the percentage of foreign visitors to museums increased by about 130 percent whereas foreign visitors to cultural sites rose by 100 percent. Museums remained well-known among foreign visitors by receiving on standard 50 percent more visits than cultural sites. The direction among all four provinces for total foreign visits witnessed a progressive increase, with the highest increase in KP where the number of museum visits in 2018 rose by 250 percent. Gallup Pakistan observed 15 to 20 percent increase in local and foreign visitors. Attraction in museums is continuously increasing. The Shahi Qila in Lahore was the most popular cultural site. The Shalimar Garden, Lahore, was the second most popular site in 2016 and 2018, and the Hiran Minar in Sheikhupura was the second most visited site in 2017. The third most visited site by foreigners in 2016 was Mohenjo-Daro, Larkana, Jahangir’s Tomb in 2017 and the Shalimar Garden in 2018. There are opportunities for further improvements. With some great efforts both local and foreigner visitors can be increased significantly in Pakistan.
Pakistan ranked least competitive global tourist destination. It was ranked 121 out of 140 countries on the Travel and Tourism Competitive Index 2019 released by the World Economic Forum. Pakistan was one of the least competitive in South Asia in terms of travel and tourism. The low ranking showed that Pakistan required improvement to tourist service infrastructure, as well as international unity, protection and security, better health and hygiene, among other things, to move up in the World Economic Forum index. Pakistan had made progress in human resources and labor market of the tourism industry and recognized Pakistan as one of the most improved countries in this area. Pakistan had price competitiveness also. In Asia, Japan was recorded as the most competitive tourist economy in the continent, while China was diagnosed the largest tourist economy in the Asia-Pacific region. Japan was ranked fourth globally, while China was listed as 13th globally. The largest Pakistani city, Karachi, was ranked as one of the least liveable cities in the world in a report published by the Economist Intelligence Unit. Karachi was ranked 136 out of 140 cities across the world. The other least liveable cities were Harare, Tripoli, Dhaka, Lagos and, at the very bottom, Damascus. Last year, Karachi was ranked 137 out of 140 cities but has jumped one place this year. The Austrian capital Vienna retained its ranking as the world’s most liveable city. For the first time, the city index noted the effects of climate change on livability, with New Delhi and Cairo dropping in the rankings to 118th and 125th place respectively due to bad air quality, unwanted average temperatures and insufficient water provision. Tourism and hospitality is rising as the second biggest growing sector in the world and would be offering 76 million jobs by 2022, stated College of Tourism and Hotel Management. Multan was stated to rise as a centre for tourism as many established brands are preparing to step into the city of saints. The government of Pakistan is offering tax holiday for foreign investments in tourism sector in an effort bid to attract Foreign Direct Investment. The government has scheduled planned to invite foreign investment into the country for establishing tourism zones in potential Northern Areas, Swat, Galiat and Hazara region and Gilgit Baltistan and other tourism zones.