To commemorate World Tourism Day on September 27, Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) held a two-day conference in Islamabad to discuss the current state of the tourism industry, the potential it holds for the future and what areas must be focused on to achieve it. Needless to say, a holistic approach is required to rehabilitate an industry that is a routine subject of the repercussions of climate change and experiences regular mismanagement.

According to recent estimates, Pakistan’s tourism industry is set to generate almost $4 billion in the next four year—almost double the current revenue of $2.5 billion. In fact, PTDC’s managing director Aftab ur Rehman Rana was rather confident about this perspective as he highlighted that the industry has managed to create 300,000 jobs already. In the coming years, more employment opportunities will present themselves, especially considering that rehabilitation and development work needs to be carried out in countless destinations to attract tourists once again.

The floods have caused damages worth billions, in addition to destroying vital heritage sites like Mohenjo-Daro that are at risk of complete collapse. These billions do not even factor in pre-existing losses caused by incidents like the Murree snowstorm that left tourists completely stranded. Flimsy infrastructure as well as poorly constructed roads have been a problem that deters tourists from visiting sites, and the matter is made worse by the fact that connectivity becomes a major problem once you cross the boundaries of urban centres.

If anything, the PTDC and all other relevant authorities must understand the monumental task that lies ahead. Improving the quality of tourism entails embarking upon new projects that only recover the previous ones but build upon them in a manner that is sustainable for the long-term and inviting for people of all cultures, ethnicities, nationalities and religions. Roads must be improved along with living options, provision of security and enhancing access to all areas of Pakistan. Such improvements must be made if we are to actually achieve the expected revenue of $4 billion.