With significant decline in terror attacks across Pakistan, the country is experiencing a surge in tourist arrivals and is looking to promote the sector’s potential, a news report has revealed, quoting official figures.
According to the Bloomberg report, Pakistan began a tourism drive earlier this summer placing adverts across the sides of London’s red buses and has boosted its road infrastructure across key holiday regions.
Tourists are now returning to areas such as the Swat Valley, a northern region known as the Switzerland of Pakistan, the report said. Since the 2014 massacre of more than 100 children at a military school, the country’s army has conducted massive operations against terror outfits.
The state-owned Pakistan Tourism Development Corp says annual tourist arrivals to Pakistan have more than tripled since 2013 to 1.75 million last year, while domestic travelers rose 30 percent to 38.3.
The World Travel and Tourism Council puts the total contribution of tourism to Pakistan’s economy at $19.4 billion last year or 6.9 percent of gross domestic product. In a decade, the WTTC expects that to rise to $36.1 billion, said the report.
According to the report, the government is also considering expanding the visa-on-arrival service beyond the current 16 countries.
Infrastructure and visa
Jonny Bealby, managing director of London-based Wild Frontiers Adventure Travel, says his tours to Pakistan are up 60 percent from last year. Wild Frontiers Adventure Travel has been running trips to Pakistan for two decades.
Bealby said that besides security, infrastructure has also improved in Pakistan. “The roads have improved immeasurably reducing journey times,’’ he said.
According to Pakistan’s biggest accommodation booking website, Jovago, hotel bookings also increased 80 percent last year. Many Pakistanis want to travel, but going abroad is difficult, said Nadine Malik, chief executive officer of Jovago Asia.
Meanwhile, resort spots like the northern town of Naran are buzzing with construction work, while hotels and restaurants enjoy a healthy trade from Pakistani holiday makers, said the report.