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Pakistan: A breathtaking tourist destination

Pakistan’s landscape is unique and varied, with high altitude mountain ranges in the North; a series of low mountain ranges from North to Southwest; plains and deserts to East; and warm and captivating beaches of the Arabian Sea to the South. With 7,253 known glaciers, Pakistan has more glacial ice than any other country on earth outside the Polar Regions, writes Mudassir Tipu, Director General (America) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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Pakistan, a culturally and socially diverse country, is a land with magical and mystical beauty. Boasting a civilization going back millennia, the country is a bastion of cultural relics inherited from the knowledge and experience of communities, historians, artists, archeologists, and anthropologists. The country’s spiritual heritage is epitomized by the mosques, shrines, temples, churches, gurudwaras, and mandirs that it has preserved over time immemorial. The U.S. magazine Condé Nast Traveler ranked Pakistan as the No.1 travel destination for tourism in 2020.

Taxila, an ancient city, is a trove of treasures with Buddhist Stupas and archeological remains and the tales of history tell us that Thomas the Apostle came to present-day Taxila in the first century AD. Deep in the Kalasha Valleys of Chitral, you can meet the indigenous tribe who are believed to be descendants of Alexander the Great. Due to its cultural power, the World Economic Forum has placed Pakistan among the top 25 percent of global destinations for its UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Read more: Analyzing the potential of tourism in Pakistan

Pakistan has wonderful tourist spots

Pakistan’s landscape is unique and varied, with high altitude mountain ranges in the North; a series of low mountain ranges from North to Southwest; plains and deserts to East; and warm and captivating beaches of the Arabian Sea to the South. With 7,253 known glaciers, Pakistan has more glacial ice than any other country on earth outside the Polar Regions.

The northern areas of Pakistan meet the three spectacular mountain ranges, Karakoram, Hindukush, and the Himalayas. Pakistan has five of the 14 highest independent peaks in the world (the eight-thousanders), including K2, Nanga Parbat, Gasherbrum I & II, and Broad Peak. Home to 108 peaks above 7,000 meters and over four thousand peaks above 6,000 meters, an entire series can be devoted to the mountains of Pakistan. Other than the lofty mountains the north offers cultural heritage, beautiful valleys, natural lakes, glaciers and an array of rare fauna and flora. The Polo festival at Shandur Top in Gilgit Baltistan is an out of world experience with the backdrop of snowy mountains, alpine flowers, and sparkling lakes.

Pakistan’s four provinces have rich cultural diversity with differences in food, art, traditions, and way of life. Karachi, the port city has landmarks such as Empress Market, the Bristol Hotel, Frere Hall, and the founding father Quid-e-Azam Jinnah’s Mausoleum. Peshawar, known as the ‘City on the Frontier’, is located on the crossroads of Central Asia and South Asia with historic sites, and Qissa Kahwani bazaar’s inescapable beauty. Baluchistan has breathtaking attractions such as Quetta, nicknamed the ‘fruit garden of Pakistan’, and the Urak Valley, Quaid-e-Azam’s Residency Ziarat, and Pishin Valley among many others.

A serene abode to nature lovers, the lush green Kashmir, bestowed with nature’s bounties is ideal for sporting activities like skiing, paragliding and river rafting. In the north, you can live at the Khaplu Palace mid-19th century imperial building like Baltistani royalty. To experience Mughal Architecture, a visit to Lahore with the sights of Lahore Fort, Shalimar Gardens, and the Badshahi Mosque is a must.

Read more: Promoting sustainable coastal tourism in Pakistan

New York Times picked Lahore as one of the top places to visit in 2021

The British Backpacker Society ranked Pakistan as the number one adventure travel destination for 2018. Will Hatton, the author of The Broke Backpacker, wrote that Pakistani people are “hospitable, kind and welcoming people”. Locals are generous who will invite you to their homes without a prior meeting, shopkeepers will ask you to have chai while you are window shopping and its rich cultural power embraces you with open arms. Pakistani street food and chai (tea) at makeshift cafes are a world of their own bustling with resilient and joyful youth. Fragrant, spicy and delectable- many local dishes carry cultural heritage rooted in the history and geography of the country.

In recent years, Pakistan has witnessed an incredible improvement in its security situation. The Gallup Law and Order Report of 2021 ranks Pakistan, Italy, Sri Lanka and Israel at the same score of 84 keeping it above many developed countries. The Serbian-based Numbeo Crime Index that ranks 452 cities has improved Karachi’s rank from 13thin 2013, to 127th in 2021 while Islamabad and Lahore are ranked at 396 and 274 respectively showing that the cities of Pakistan are safer when compared to other major cosmopolitan cities. Pakistan also fares far better in comparison with many advanced economies in the Numbeo’s Crime Index 2022.

The hospitality and tourism industry is throbbing in Pakistan. The Prime Minister, Mr. Imran Khan, has made the promotion of tourism a priority and the Prime Minister’s determination is yielding positive results. Pakistan’s tourism future is full of hope as the government is aiming to initiate new projects and produce jobs through ongoing efforts and future initiatives to promote tourism.

Pakistan is offering visas on arrival to visitors from over 50 countries and electronic visas to 175 nationalities. In 2017, an estimated 1.7 million foreigners visited Pakistan. The number further grew in the following years, pre-Pandemic. The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) forecasted that the country’s tourism sector would grow to over $40 billion within a decade. According to WTTC, one in four jobs was created by Travel and Tourism during 2014-2019 in Pakistan. Tourism contribution to GDP was 10.4% in 2019. Multiple digital resources provide the consumers with all the information to plan their trip by aggregating companies and travel agents from across Pakistan onto one platform.

Football lovers will be happy to know that coaches from Great Britain are coming to Karachi this month to train Pakistan’s young and rambunctious football fans. And the crazy cricket fans are absolutely thrilled that the top cricketers from all over the world are pouring in Pakistan to play in Pakistan Super League (PSL) matches.

Read more: UK-based magazine, Fascinating Pakistan, to promote tourism in Pakistan

Pakistan is emerging as one of the best travel destinations in the world. The jovial and vibrant South Asian nation is a great place to enjoy the natural beauty and hospitality of its people. In 2017, Cassie De Pescol, the first person to travel to all 196 countries on the planet, after her groundbreaking journey put Pakistan as her 5th favorite country citing that it was one of her most educational and enriching experiences.

 

The writer is the Director-General (America) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.

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