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Last Updated:[12-03-2009 08:45:14 EDT] Zoom in Zoom out Back to Tradenews

Political Uncertainty and Terrorism Damage Pakistan’s Tourism Sector

tradenews Tourism is one of major revenue earners for Pakistan, but persistent terror activities in the country have negatively impacted the tourism business, especially after the Marriot Hotel attack which left 60 people dead in last September. The Swat valley, once famously known as the Switzerland of Pakistan is under continuous Drone attack by the US of late, to prevent Taliban militants from taking control of the valley and avoid them re-enforcing their positions once again.

In the latest Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report (TTCR) 2009 released by World Economic Forum, Pakistan stands at 113, two places down from the previous year, moreover, the list got longer from 130 to 133 this year. On the contrary, India and Sri Lanka despite a string of terrorist attacks during the same period witnessed an upward movement in the TTCR, from 65 to 62 and 78 to 73 respectively.

The reasons blamed for the dismal performance by Pakistan are government’s inactivity in improving infrastructural facilities, political uncertainty in spite of having an elected government and heightened security concerns of the tourists. Pakistan grossed $200mn from 800,000 visitors in 2007 whereas in the last year, they were able to attract 400,000 visitors and earned just half of the previous year’s income.

Experts forewarn that Pakistan’s travel & tourism industry has not hit the lowest point yet, and the coming months are likely to witness further fall in business. Pakistan’s Minister of Tourism, Ataur Rehman’s stand on enforcing norms on morality ground to foreign tourists including abstention from alcoholic drinks is also likely to play spoilsport to the fast failing sector.

Rehman stated in his recent interview that people were not coming from rest of the world as their governments have advised not to visit Pakistan. However, he acknowledged that terrorism has adversely affected investment and transformed the Pakistan’s bustling scenic tourist spots devoid of visitors. He also admitted the recent terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan cricket players has even tampered with the sports tourism of the country.

Pakistan was one of the most sought after tourist destinations of the western world owing to its congenial climate, serene valleys and pocket-friendly expenditures. It is famous for its ancient Gandhara and Indus Valley Civilization. It also has beautiful mountainous region sprawled across with more than 100 peaks of above 7,000 metres (22,950 feet) in height. K-2 the second highest peak in the world after Everest is situated in this region.

By Jose Roy

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