Tourism sector is playing a major role in global economy ensuring economic security of states on the one hand and creating immense economic opportunities for people around the globe on the other hand. Located at the crossroads of various important civilizations, Pakistan is blessed with natural wonders and cultural treasures that make the country an attractive location for tourists. While there are many states in the world that artificially create and enhance their tourism infrastructure   to attract the foreign tourist,   Pakistan is blessed   with natural landscape ranging from lofty mountains to high plateaus, magnificent lakes and abundant rivers. The article aims to shed light on cultural treasures and natural wonders by celebrating the richness of tourism sector in Pakistan. It also recommends improvement in various areas to enhance the tourism sector there by increasing tourist based revenue that will help boost Pakistan’s economy.

Pakistan creation in 1947 has led to amalgamation of various regions, cultures, languages, traditions and ethnic groups under one Pakistani identity. The region of Sindh, Baluchistan, KPK and Punjab each has its distinct language, cultural dress, food, values and traditions that make them different and unique from others. These various cultures attract people from outside to see the richness and beauty of various cultures all embraced under one flag. The richness of culture and natural beauty makes Pakistan unique and diverse landscape in the world. The cultural heritage of Pakistan is distinct with diverse music, art, dance and literature of each region. The culture and tradition of each region is unique and different from other and hence adds diversity to Pakistan cultural outlook. The Sindhi language, food, dress, art, dance and literature is different from that of Punjab, KPK and Baluchistan and these various and diverse cultures add beauty and richness thereby attracting the foreign visitors. The projection of these cultures through various mediums can help enhance positive image of Pakistan.

Natural Wonders and Cultural Treasures of Pakistan:

Talking about the natural wonders of Pakistan, it inherits and endows heterogeneous natural landscape ranging from lakes, deserts, plateaus, mountains and forests.

World second largest mountain i.e. Karakoram is located in Pakistan that attracts trekkers and mountain climbers from all over the world. The Himalayan range and Hindu-Kush range also hold great significance in terms of natural beauty and tourist destination. Along with these natural mountains, the country is blessed with breath-taking lakes- to name a few the famous lake of Saif-ul-Malook situated in the Kaghan Valley, and Attabad Lake located in Gilgit-Baltistan (GB). The Thar Desert in Sindh, and Cholistan desert in Punjab, also add beauty to Pakistan’s Natural wonders thereby enhancing various fauna and flora and attracting bird-watchers and photo-graphers from around the world. Pakistan forest cover in Chitral and Kaghan Valley and Margella Hills is equally impressive and home to wildlife. Efforts should be made to protect the forest cover as it is declining with growing population.

The North of Pakistan including GB,  KPK and Azad Jammu and Kashmir are home to places that are enriched with natural beauty and landscapes that are picturesque and breath-taking. The Karakoram Range with world highest peaks passes through GB and Hunza Valley. The awe inspiring landscapes and beautiful lakes compel the tourist to visit again. To name some important tourist sites in Hunza valley, Attabad Lake, Baltit Fort, Altit Fort, Ultar Sar, Hopar Valley are the most famous sites. The snowcapped peaks, glistening glaciers and crystal clear lakes make Hunza a popular travel destination. The area is also famous for its diverse languages, food cuisines and musical instruments that give GB a unique identity. The art and craft of GB that range from wood carving, embroidery to sewing also adds to GB fame as these crafts are passed to next generations to preserve the cultural and artistic heritage of the region.

Azad Jammu and Kashmir is also an attractive tourist site as it is blessed with Natural beauty but is also home to various religious sites including Hindu Temples and Gurduwara, Sufi Mazars in various districts.

Devi Gali and Mandol Temple, Dharmsaal and Dhamni  Gurdwara are located in Poonch District, while other Hindu Temples and Gurdwaras are located in Muzaffarabad, Bhimber, Mirpur and Kotli. The preservation of these religious sites is assigned to Azad Jammu and  Kashmir Archaeology and Tourism Department. To mention a few tourist sites Shardah Peet in Neelum, toil peer and Banjusa Lake in Sudhnoti, Mangla Fort and Burjun Fort in Mirpur are other areas full of natural landscape, rich history and cultural heritage.

In the North of Pakistan, Sindh province holds great significance due to rich cultural heritage. The region was once home to millennia old Indus valley civilization. Mohenjodaro is an old city that is believed to be first urban settlements is located in Sindh is in the list of UNESCO World heritage sites. The Province of Punjab in the East of Pakistan also hold great cultural importance as ancient city of Harrapa is located here which is one of the world earliest civilization. The Province is also home to taxila which also a UNESCO world heritage site is being an ancient city. Lahore Fort and Shalimar Garden are the impressive architectural structures that attract tourist from all over Pakistan. Khewra salt mine is second largest mine in the world, Shalimar Garden is as old as 17th century and Lahore fort dates back to 16th Century. Iconoic Mosque of Lahore the Badshai mosque is also famous as one of the largest mosques of the world built by Mughal Empire in 17th century.

Baluchistan is a land of rich culture and located in the South West of Pakistan. The ancient city of Gwadar and the Hingol National Park are important cultural sites.

Mehrgarh civilization traces are also found in Balochistan and reflect region unique and diverse culture and traditions. KPK is another important region of Pakistan that is famous for its unique Pakhtoon Culture, traditions and natural landscapes. From Khyber Pass to Peshwar museuem to breathtaking sites in Hazara region, KPK also hold great significance as a tourist site. The Swat Valley in KPK is famous for its serenic and picturesque beauty.

While there is abundant tourism potential, yet efforts are required to improve and work the untapped potential that enhance the economic security of local communities and overall contribute to GDP growth of Pakistan. As many countries like UAE, Maldives, Switzerland, Thailand  etc are boosting their economy via tourists that visit them from around the globe.

Measures to Maximize the Tourism Potential of Pakistan:

Tourism sector in Pakistan holds great potential due to Natural wonders, religious sites, cultural diversity, changing seasons and important terrain. It is worth mentioning that despite huge potential, Pakistan is not benefitting from tourism sector the way it can due to certain drawbacks which include security situation due to resurging terrorism, lack of proper infrastructure, strict visa system, lack of trained human resource and less projection of natural beauty in foreign world that impacts the tourism sector.

To achieve maximum potential, it is essential that the internal security of Pakistan be improved and government must control the resurge in terrorism. Along with that, Special attention should be given to infrastructure development. The important tourist sites should be well equipped with modern infrastructure facilities, people should be trained properly to deal with foreign tourists, and hotels and restaurants of world class facilities need to be built to attract foreign tourist. Social media is the best platform that government and private sector involved in tourism development can utilize in order to project a positive image of Pakistan. The government must take initiatives to collaborate with social media influencers and showcase Pakistan natural treasures and cultural wonders with the world. Moreover, on diplomatic level, there is a need to promote cultural exchange programs. Foreign Office must take special initiatives to collaborate with different states and bring people via cultural programs and showcase Pakistan’s cultural values. There is a need to make documentaries of natural landscapes and diverse cultures of various regions and to display them globally via various platforms. The tourism department can introduce various contests among university students of media studies to make documentaries to showcase tourist destinations in Pakistan. These incentives will really bring a positive change motivating people to enhance Pakistan positive image worldwide by sharing those documentaries. Print and electronic media can play a major role especially the drama and film industry must highlight the beautiful sites of Pakistan.

There is a need to increase the allocated quota of tourism departments of various regions and these departments should work to maintain and preserve the cultural sites, make efforts to keep the areas free from any kind of land, water or air pollution, install modern infrastructure and project its potential to improve the tourism sector. Inter-provincial competition among various tourism departments will also encourage the slow functioning departments to speed up their trajectory. Private entrepreneurs can play a key role in development of tourism sector as with their unique and out of the box ideas, they can enhance the contribution of tourism sector in economic prosperity of region. There are still many untapped areas and sites that need government attention to make them and convert them to beautiful tourist sites. While celebrating the tourism destinations in Pakistan, it is essential to work on areas that need improvement as Pakistan can also earn billion of dollars annually like other countries by investing in right direction, attracting foreign tourists and utilizing the true potential of tourism sector.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email