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World Tourism Day, September 27 and the Potential of Tourism in Pakistan

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World Tourism Day is an annual observance day that aims to foster awareness of tourism’s social, cultural, political and economic value and the contribution that the sector can make towards reaching the Sustainable Development Goals. It was established by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in 1980 and has been celebrated every year since then on September 27.
The theme for World Tourism Day 2023 is “Tourism and Green Investment”, which highlights the need for more and better-targeted investments for people, planet and prosperity. According to UNWTO, now is the time for new and innovative solutions, not just traditional investments that promote and underpin economic growth and production. World Tourism Day 2023 will be a call to action for the international community, governments, multilateral financial institutions, development partners and private sector investors to unite around a new tourism investment strategy.

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There is a dire need for the tourism industry to invest in people, the planet, and prosperity. Investing in education and skills for the tourism workforce, especially for young people and women, who are critical to upskilling the sector and enhancing its competitiveness and resilience, is significant. Then, investing in sustainable infrastructure and accelerating green transformation, such as reducing emissions, ensuring climate-resilient infrastructure, promoting renewable energy sources, enhancing waste management and water efficiency, and protecting biodiversity and natural resources are critical. Furthermore, investing in innovation, technology, and entrepreneurship is paramount, such as supporting digitalization and innovation programs, incentivizing entrepreneurship and creating opportunities for innovations that can improve the quality and sustainability of tourism products and services.

Pakistan has a rich potential for tourism development, as it has diverse natural and cultural attractions, such as mountains, glaciers, lakes, rivers, deserts, forests, historical sites, religious sites, festivals, cuisines and crafts. However, the country also faces many challenges in the tourism sector, such as security issues, lack of infrastructure, poor service quality, low awareness and promotion, weak governance and regulation, environmental degradation and climate change impacts. Pakistan should learn from World Tourism Day 2023 and expand its tourism industry by adopting the following measures.
There is a need to implement a national tourism policy and strategy that aligns with the Sustainable Development Goals and the theme of “Tourism and Green Investment” with the help of provinces, and tourism stands as a devolved subject.

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Then, improving the visa facilitation process and enhancing the safety and security of tourists is critical. Furthermore, developing and upgrading the tourism infrastructure and facilities, such as roads, airports, hotels, restaurants, rest houses, information centres, etc., are vital for the growth of the tourism industry. Promoting the diversification and innovation of tourism products and services, such as adventure tourism, ecotourism, cultural tourism, gastronomy tourism, religious tourism, etc., can enhance the reach of the tourism industry. Improving the quality and standards of tourism services and ensuring customer satisfaction is one of the ways forward. Then, there is a need to increase the awareness and marketing of Pakistan’s tourism potential at national and international levels.

Likewise, strengthening the collaboration and coordination among all stakeholders in the tourism sector, such as government agencies, private sector operators, local communities, civil society organizations, media outlets, etc., is essential. Fostering a responsible tourism culture that respects the host communities’ environment, culture, and values is also significant for Pakistan. Therefore, there is a need to politely inform the tourists about Pakistan’s culture and its sensitivities. Lastly, the projection of Pakistani tourism internally and externally is critical for thriving tourism in the country.

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