ISLAMABAD-Managing Director of Pakistan Tourism Department Corporation (PTDC) Aftab ur Rehman Rana, Tuesday said that Pakistan’s tourism industry, currently estimated at USD 2.5 billion which will go up to USD 4 billion in next four years.

Tourism was not just about attractive destinations and leisure activities, but had emerged as one of the fundamental pillars of economic development and had one of the highest job-creating potentials across all sectors of the country, he said.  The government was doing all to promote tourism and generate more employment opportunities for youth in Pakistan, he said, adding, currently over 300,000 jobs were created through tourism industry which would be further increased to 500,000  in coming years.

“The promotion of tourism will not only create economic activity in the local areas, but will also have a positive impact on the national economy,” he said adding, the contribution rate of the tourism industry to Pakistan’s GDP was 5%, which would exceed to 7%.

The tourism ministry was taking a keen interest in promoting the culture, adventure and religious tourism in the country and adopting measures to revamp the infrastructure and ensure all the required facilities for the tourists, he added. With public-private partnership, more destinations were being identified and developed, historic and religious places were being refurbished and preserved, roads and motorways leading to tourist destinations were being built, and new hotels and accommodations were being set up, he mentioned. He said that government was facilitating private tour operators, adding, private tour operators from next year would participate in five major tourism expose to further promote soft image of Pakistan on international forums. 

He also stressed for bringing improvement in aviation policy which would control high rate fares of airlines, adding, there was dire need to allow neighbour countries’ airlines in the country in which we would earn double revenue and it would give a new competition between airlines. 

He said Pakistan was among the top few countries which were facing the highest risk of disasters due to impacts of global warming and climate change, adding that many heritage sites had faced serious damages and many natural landscapes of tourist areas had been eroded. To another question, he said Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) had held a two-day conference in Islamabad to mark the World Tourism Day, which was celebrated every year on 27th September.  Experts from tourism industry had participated in five panel discussions to discuss topics including restoration of tourism after floods and widespread rains, removing bottlenecks to promote foreign tourism in Pakistan, issues and challenges of mountaineering and trekking tourism in the country, he added.