Tourism capital is a big untapped market in Pakistan. This country is blessed with the most scenic valleys, mountain peaks, lakes, rivers, and amazing hill stations. The country has huge arable land as well as large deserts, cities and towns, historical places, heritage sites, rural and urban settings; to sum up, a lot to offer to tourists, both foreign and local – there are amazingly beautiful areas in all the different parts of the country. What has been missing is the perceived sense of security whereby tourists can feel easy while traveling around. Much smaller countries in the neighborhood have managed to raise that critical mass of travelers that has in turn helped them grow much faster, but Pakistan has lagged here. It’s something that is right there needing a focused effort to grow, and the most important supporter in this regard needs to be the government and law enforcement agencies who need to work hand in hand to build a safer country and then media would eventually jump in to help with changing the perception of this amazing country. Countries such as China, India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka are all close by and becoming examples of how effective country branding is bringing in a host of investments, tourist traffic, development ideas and growth across the masses.
It is high time Pakistan gets back to work and quietly creates an exemplary country that revives its image. The efforts in this regard are bound to pay back as a sense of security would automatically lead to a more productive, effective, healthier, happier and more satisfied local population, and it would also bring in tourist spend to all the different areas in the country assuring broad based growth and development. That growth will also bring to the forefront motivated individuals, who would then become role models for others to follow, again something positive in the roots of every civilized, progress-oriented economy.
Here are the 5 steps that the government should quickly take to start with this process:
- Initiate a very strict security check and clear out areas of any disturbances so that people may feel free to travel anywhere within Pakistan.
- Setup a working state-of-the-art, technology-driven support system that is available across Pakistan to link medical facilities, hospitals, dispensaries, mobile medical ambulances, and security institutions such as police, rangers, and patrolling authorities. It should be a single-point link whereby any caller could get immediate emergency support.
- Make clouds of areas whereby particular kinds of tourism is possible. For example, put up a cloud for skating facilities, and link up the businesses, services and transport in those areas. Similarly, do it for historical sites, mountain ranges, etc. Make this all available online and allow accessibility to book online or through phone (this needs very effective pricing check so that the businesses charge fair prices).
- Prepare amusement theme parks in various cities that allow activities for families, fun for all and competitions for the youth.
- Actively market the efforts in this area on national television and other media so that people can actually see this work done, and become motivated to go out and start enjoying these facilities.
Once the right number of local population becomes very comfortable with the system and facilities, there are going to be foreign tourists too based on the effective word-of-mouth marketing. There could be different prices for Pakistani Citizens (validated through NADRA National Identity Card) and for Non-Resident Citizens/Foreign Tourists. Moreover, there could be discounts for tax paying citizens for using any of the facilities.
Such steps would not only help kick-start the economy, but also ensure that people are provided safe environment, and entertainment to remain healthy.