Pakistan has launched a national tourism brand — Salam Pakistan, a first for the country that has been grappling with severe challenges, many of which have been on the economic front.
Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the travel and tourism industry contributed approximately $15 billion, accounting for 6% of Pakistan’s total gross domestic product (GDP) in 2019.
However, due to the pandemic’s impact, this figure decreased significantly to $11.6 billion, representing 4.4% of GDP in 2020. Additionally, the number of jobs in the tourism sector declined from 3.45 million in 2019 to 3.63 million in 2020.
Pakistan’s vast tourism potential, which includes remarkable attractions like the world’s second-highest mountain and the ancient Indus Valley Civilization and Mohenjo-Daro, has been plagued by security concerns and political instability since the early 2000s.
In recent years, the government has made efforts to revive the tourism economy, and the launch of the Salam Pakistan brand indicates the country’s commitment to promoting its diverse tourism sector.
On the occasion of last year’s World Tourism Day, Pakistani President Arif Alvi underscored the significance of tourism as a crucial generator of foreign exchange earnings, a catalyst for job creation, and a tool for poverty alleviation.
Alvi drew attention to its role in fostering a sense of harmony among people hailing from diverse regions within the country. The president emphasized the necessity of setting clear priorities to fully harness the vast potential of the tourism sector.
The former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, recognized the great potential of tourism during his speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2020.
To facilitate tourism, Pakistan introduced an online visa facility, which was later extended to 191 countries. It is also looking to develop a draft National Tourism Strategy and Action Plan in collaboration with various stakeholders from the public and private sectors.
With the implementation of government policies and measures to promote domestic and international tourism, Pakistan aims to increase the number of visitors by approximately 30% by 2030.
The country is also becoming an attractive investment destination for new hotel developments. Notably, Hilton and Radisson Hotel Group have signed agreements for upscale hotels in the country, with plans to introduce internationally branded accommodations.
As a result of these initiatives, hotels in Pakistan are witnessing substantial growth in terms of occupancy and average rates, and this positive trend is expected to continue in the coming years.