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🧗♂️Tourism between the 1970s to mid-1990s was considered to be an actual industry that was thriving, as well as generating a reasonable amount of revenue.
Tourism in Pakistan
- Tourism in Pakistan
- Tourism b/w 1970s and 1990s
- The Golden Period of Tourism
- 1980 Olympics
- Visit of Queen Elizabeth Visited
- Emir of Kuwait Jabar al Saha al Ahmed Visited
- King Faisal Visited
- Muhammad Ali (Boxer) Visited
- Touring and Mountaineering from Karachi to Northern Areas
- Tourism Revenue Contribution
- Famous Tourists Destinations
- Tourism Now (after the 1990s)
- Drastic Decline in Tourists
- Islamabad Marriott Hotel Incident
- The killing of Tourists at Nanga Parbat
- A Slight Increase in Tourists UNWTO Report
- Reasons for the Decline of Tourism
- Steps Taken to Improve the Industry
- The role of Print and Electronic Media
- YouTubers (Vloggers)
- Tourism Development Boards
- The Conclusion
Majority of the people from other countries are extremely wary when it comes to the subject of visiting Pakistan on a holiday, or for exploring this part located on the world map as a tourist.
A decade ago, foreigners were seen to be flocking to Pakistan in prolific numbers. Tourism between the 1970s to mid-1990s was considered to be an actual industry that was thriving, as well as generating a reasonable amount of revenue.
Countless Americans, British, Canadians, Chinese, Germans, Australians, and people from all over the globe toured Pakistan and enjoyed our cultural heritage, diverse culture and landscapes.
Many American and British athletes took part in the 1980 Olympics held in Karachi. During this era many popular figures such as Queen Elizabeth of England, boxer Muhammad Ali, and the mother of all tours, cricket matches, took place.
In 1974, Emir of Kuwait Jabar al Saha al Ahmed and King Faisal of Saudi Arabia visited Lahore. PIA was amongst the top 10 airlines of the world. The list of high profile people who visited Pakistan during those years is too long to be mentioned here.
Tourists and mountaineers used to travel through Lahore, Karachi, and Islamabad, from where they headed towards the northern areas, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (then North-West Frontier Province), Swat, and Gilgit-Baltistan.
There were also many expeditions to mountainous regions like the Kaghan valley, as it offered good trekking opportunities, and the Himalayas and Hindu Kush areas surrounding Swat were a huge tourist attraction for many who visited Pakistan.
During this phase, Pakistan’s tourism industry contributed to a substantial amount of revenue generation due to the inflow of people from Europe who were mostly backpackers and known as trendsetters of the “hippie sub-culture.”
“They toured from city to city; their main destination was to reach the Karakorum, the northern areas, Gilgit, and then head towards China,” Afzaal reminisces. He is one of the pioneers in the tourism field having served as a guide; he has previously worked for the Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC), and in the 1970s to 1990s, he accommodated thousands of foreigners in his guesthouse located on the Upper Mall, Lahore.
He has a collection of thousands of pictures with Russians, British, American, German, Irish, Chinese and other tourists, and a vast collection of lovely testimonials they left him. He proudly says that he singlehandedly accommodated over 4,000 tourists in his guesthouse from 1972 to 1991. His guests left lovely testimonials, wishing him good luck and giving feedback on his services about the wonderful stay they had experienced while enjoying Punjabi food and having him as a guide and a warm host.
During those years ordinary tour guides were making very less each month. The ones who have been in this field since decades still rejoice at the charm of the lost years, and when they recalled memories of the eras of the 1970s to 1990s they were delighted.
Tour guides made money through many different ways throughout the golden period of tourism in Pakistan, but now they say there is hardly any scope for tourism. The only tourists coming into Pakistan are from India, and the reason for that is that the Lahore to Delhi bus service has become operational. On July 15, 2016, only 13 passengers came from Amritsar, which is clearly an insufficient number. Now the situation is entirely different in comparison as tourism drastically declined as terrorism set roots in tribal areas and across Pakistan. The country has become a synonym for terrorism and blasts.
Back then tourists arrived in large numbers and set off with these tour guides on trips throughout various provinces, and the northern areas — Ghizer, Skardu and Astore.
Popular attractions included the Karakoram peaks, consisting of K2 (world’s second highest mountain, 28,251 feet); Gasherbrum, 26,510 feet; Broad Peak, 8,051 metres. Moreover, certain areas in Kashmir, Swat and Mohenjo Daro in Sindh were amongst the famous tourist destinations.
Tour guides made money through many different ways throughout the golden period of tourism in Pakistan, but now they say there is hardly any scope for tourism.
The only tourists coming into Pakistan are from India, and the reason for that is that the Lahore to Delhi bus service has become operational. On July 15, 2016, only 13 passengers came from Amritsar, which is clearly an insufficient number.
Now the situation is entirely different in comparison as tourism drastically declined as terrorism set roots in tribal areas and across Pakistan. The country has become a synonym for terrorism and blasts.
The Islamabad Marriott Hotel bombing, which occurred in 2008, sent shock waves across the international media, reiterating the message to outsiders that even some of the best hotels were no longer safe.
In June 2013, approximately 16 attackers entered a base camp of foreign tourists who had come to climb the Nanga Parbat mountain and killed ten of the tourists. Subsequently, the American government has officially stated on its website that its citizens are strictly warned to go to Pakistan, and diplomats currently present in the country are restricted from entering certain areas of Pakistan where there is a high-security risk. Pakistan is no longer a safe haven for locals or tourists.
However, there has been an ongoing increase and decrease in the charts of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).
In some years, the influx of tourists was huge, and in others, considerably less; despite the high-security risks highlighted by the international media, people are still coming to Pakistan.
According to statistics, about 378,000 visitors arrived in 1995, which increased to 907,000 in 2010. The expenditure of international tourism was at 3.7 per cent according to the UNWTO, and this number is rather small in comparison to that of the 1970s to early 1990s era. In 2012, approximately one million tourists visited Pakistan according to the PTDC.
The tourism industry has been doing well in recent years at an average rate of 15 to 20 per cent despite security issues. In 2014, there was a downtrend again, as shown by the 0.1 per cent share of international receipts, according to the UNWTO.
Recently, tourism has suffered the most because of the ongoing Zarb-e-Azb operation, war-like situation in tribal areas, and the chaotic situation in Karachi.
Some westerners are helping in image building by showing a fascinating side of our country.
Recently, a short documentary, Kipling’s Indian Journey, was shown on the BBC, in which the host visited Lahore. It featured Sufis’ Malang near the holy shrine of a saint in Lahore, who were dancing in a rhythmic trance known as tasawuf (taking the path of spirituality). It is the traditional Sufi twirling dance, which they believe leads a soul to the subjugation of one’s egoistic desires. Foreign and local spectators gathered around them watching them perform.
Such documentaries would definitely help in reviving the image of Pakistan that has taken a beating in the last few years because of terrorism.
Some collaborative efforts from the Tourism Development Corporation of Punjab, local ministries and foreigners in the restoration of the tourism sector will be appreciated in bringing back lost glory and glitter of the tourism sector of the 1970s to 1990s.
Pakistan has many beautiful places, ancient heritage, and cultures to offer. Every province has its own dialect, different styles of attire, traditions and norms that attract people from around the world.
Pakistan is also a country that has various landscapes — from deserts, mountains, rocky areas and greenery to plain lands that need to be explored and the World are waiting for it. All we need to do is to bring back the glory of the past in the industry.
The writer is a lawyer, social activist, and an author.
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