- PM urges ‘elites’ to visit domestic tourist attractions instead of spending their summer vacations in West
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday called for regulating the tourism industry in Pakistan by forming and implementing appropriate laws to prevent Pakistan’s “untouched” scenic sites from getting ruined.
The prime minister was addressing the Pakistan Tourism Summit in the federal capital. Several renowned foreign travel bloggers were also in attendance at the event.
“Pakistan is known for its hospitality globally because the people here are welcoming to tourists,” said Imran, as he stressed the need for regulating tourism, warning that areas on which people descend on to mint money off tourists “get ruined”.
“Pakistan’s beauty is that it is untouched,” the prime minister said.
Imran said many tribal areas of the former Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) will attract a lot of visitors when they are opened for tourism. “But when that is done, I request you that you have to make people respect the local sensibilities and local culture,” the premier said while addressing his task force on tourism.
He said if tourists disrespect the local customs of the tribal areas, the reaction that would follow would negatively impact tourism.
Citing personal travel experiences in Pakistan over the course of his life, the prime minister once again highlighted the tourism potential of the country, which he said was “unmatched” anywhere in the world.
“No other sector in Pakistan offers returns on investment as much as tourism,” Khan told the audience.
The prime minister urged the “elite” class of Pakistan to visit the domestic tourist attractions instead of spending their summer vacations in England and other European countries.
Addressing the summit, Minister of State for Interior, Shehryar Khan Afridi Wednesday said new visa policy was one of the proactive measures adopted to promote tourism in Pakistan.
“Pakistan is a safe country for tourism. The new visa policy will be helpful in tourism promotion. We want to show the beauty of Pakistan to the world,” he said this while addressing a Pakistan Tourism Summit here at Jinnah Convention Centre.
Shehryar Khan Afridi said, “We have mountain ranges and deserts. Land of Pakistan hosts all seasons and we are waiting for the world to arrive and see natural beauty.”
The Minister said his Ministry would ensure that tourists feel safe in Pakistan.
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry praised Imran for introducing tourism-friendly polices and said that he is the first “pro-tourism” leader in the history of Pakistan.
Fawad said that “Pakistan is a beautiful country which is misunderstood in many parts [of the world] and the reason is that irregular conflict we faced for three decades”.
“Pakistan has done what no other nation has done. We came out of this irregular conflict and for the first time in the history of Pakistan, we have a leader who is an environmentalist, pro-tourism, pro-culture and has a long-term vision,” he added.
The minister also spoke on the role media can play in projecting a positive image of Pakistan and the contribution it can make in boosting the tourism industry.
“We have a strong idea in changing the visa policy regime, now it’s time to present this idea. We need media support to present this idea. It will take time but Pakistan has a great future and great leadership,” he said.
Under the new tourism policy, residents from 175 countries will be able to apply for online visas. As per the new visa policy, e-visa facility will initially be provided to five countries including Turkey, China, Malaysia, the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates. The citizens of these countries will be able to apply for Pakistani visa via email against a minimum fee of US $8.
The policy will be extended to an additional 170 countries eventually. The number of countries for the business visa has been increased from 48 to 96.