Pakistan’s harsh image and lack of awareness about being the top ranked tourist destination is the reason why the tourism industry has not reached its full potential. In the digital era we live in today, it would be foolish for the authorities to overlook the promise and reach that accompanies E-Tourism. The decision for the KP government and FAST University to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to boost digital tourism and establish a link between academia and the tourist industry must be welcomed since it brings us closer to a more prosperous future.

Collaboration between a research-led university and the tourist and hospitality sector was overdue. Through such a partnership, the KP government could incorporate the latest technology within the industry and improve facilities at the grass-root level. Currently the only E-Tourism service providers operating in Pakistan are TripAdvisor and Expedia. Local operators or start-ups are completely absent from the scene, which is extremely concerning considering that they are the best resources for providing accurate and reliable information for planning a trip to the country. The gap must be filled by implementing a range of initiatives that improve the experience of visiting Pakistan.

The Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) is already working on creating an E-Portal that would function as a One-Stop-Shop for local and international tourists. This database will be essential to sort out booking details and lead to the effective distribution of tourists around the province such that no one area is overburdened. Road communication systems can also be introduced since poor connectivity at higher altitudes is a serious problem. This could also help manage traffic during peak-tourist season. Similarly, the incorporation of technology within hotels, museums and heritage sights will ensure that the quality of services remains comparable to international standards and that it adds to the unique experience of Pakistan as a tourist attraction.

The KP Culture and Tourism Authority already has plans to attract funds to bring about development in the tourist industry through signing MoUs with companies that will provide investment for integrated tourism zones (ITZs). Thus, it will have sufficient funds to embark upon the journey of encouraging E-Tourism in Pakistan. What is important is that it sticks to this initiative.