Pakistan Travel and Tourism Symposium kicks off at PNCA

Pakistan Travel and Tourism Symposium kicks off at PNCA

ISLAMABAD, JUN 10 (DNA) — The two-day Pakistan Travel and Tourism Symposium jointly organized by Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) and World Bank Pakistan started here on Monday at Pakistan National Council of Arts.

The symposium themed “Building the National Economy through Tourism” where more than 20 foreign delegates and more than 400 national and international tourism professionals, industry experts, and decision-makers have participated and shared their ideas for development of a future road map for the sustainable growth of tourism industry of Pakistan.

On this occasion, a tourism expo was also been organized to showcase Pakistan’s rich tourism potential and create G2G, B2B and G2B linkages among the industry stakeholders.  This Symposium is designed to explore and enhance critical facets of the tourism sector, with a focus on green investments, improving connectivity, responsible tourism, and the conservation of natural and cultural heritage.

The event aims to foster a transformative dialogue among stakeholders to address pivotal challenges, forge synergies, and capitalize on opportunities in the evolving tourism landscape. The opening ceremony of the symposium was attended by the as Chief Guest, Chairman Prime Minister’s Youth Programme Rana Mashhood Ahmad Khan, Minister for Culture, Tourism, Antiquities & Archives Sindh Syed Zulfiqar Ali Shah and Additional Secretary Cabinet Division Hammad Shamimi.

Addressing the participants, Chairman Prime Minister’s Youth Program, Rana Mashhood Ahmad Khan said that Pakistan, a land of rich history, diverse culture, and breathtaking natural beauty, offered countless opportunities for travelers, explorers, and adventure-seekers alike.

“From the majestic Karakoram Mountains to the ancient Indus Valley Civilization, our country is a treasure trove of experiences waiting to be discovered” Rana said.  He added that incumbent government was committed to develop tourism sector across the country and also working on different projects in all the provinces to ensure the sustainable and eco-friendly growth of this sector for the socio-economic development and employment generation for the people of Pakistan.

 “All these efforts will also greatly help in projecting the soft image of Pakistan at global level as tourist friendly country” he hoped.  He emphasized that there was great potential to engage the youth in the tourism and hospitality sector work force.

He underlined  formulating appropriate policy responses was imperative to ensure that the increasing number of youths were offered opportunities for quality education, vocational training, and skilled employment in this sector.

Chairman PM’s Youth Programme also asked the participated experts to recommend its policies that should be implemented to achieve this goal.

Speaking on the occasion Additional Secretary Cabinet Division, Hammad Shamimi said that we were committed to making Pakistan a top tourist destination, adding “Our efforts include improving infrastructure, facilitating connectivity, and fostering a business-friendly environment that encourages investment in the tourism sector”.

Moreover, he said, the government was dedicated to promoting responsible and sustainable tourism practices that preserved natural and cultural heritage for future generations.

Earlier, in his opening remarks Managing Director of PTDC, Aftab ur Rehman welcomed all the distinguished guests and said that this gathering represented a vital moment for us, highlighting the crucial role, tourism played in our economic and social landscape.

This sector is not only a vital driver of economic growth but also a powerful catalyst for job creation and poverty alleviation.

He said that we created this platform to initiate a process of dialogue among the stakeholders to shape the future of tourism in Pakistan.

The symposium will surely produce tangible outcomes, including strategic frameworks, policy recommendations, and collaborative initiatives that would greatly contribute to the sustainable growth of the tourism economy in Pakistan, he added.

Furthermore, he said that discussions and collaborations that would take place during this symposium were vital and by promoting responsible tourism practices and fostering innovative solutions, adding “We can ensure that our tourism sector thrives in harmony with our natural and cultural heritage.”

He extended his heartfelt gratitude to the team of PTDC, World Bank Group, and all the partner organizations who were contributing to this important event and thanked all the international and national delegates for sparing time to join us on this important occasion.

Deputy Secretary General ECO, Janos Asanov in his address extended his heartfelt gratitude to the Government of Pakistan, especially the Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) for inviting their delegation to this important gathering.

He said that Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) aimed to enhance its Member States’ economies through sustainable development.

The region, with a population of over 500 million and a GDP of nearly 2.5 trillion USD, had immense tourism potential while hosting 86 UNESCO World Heritage sites, including six of them in Pakistan, it attracted around 80 million visitors last year, he added.

Pakistan, he said, was one of the leading destinations among the ECO Member States achieved remarkable results in terms of receipts last year and in the first quarter of 2024 as compared to 2019.

He further stated that in light of the dynamic nature of the tourism sector, it was essential to provide travelers with convenient travel arrangements. He said long-term investments in tourism infrastructure were crucial to offer suitable travel conditions and diversify accommodation opportunities.

“Apart from national budgets, international investment opportunities also have a significant potential for our region and we have been observing that infrastructure developers such as global hotel chains and airports have shown increased interest in the ECO region,” he added.

He said that Pakistan offered very attractive opportunities for tourism investments, especially for adventure and mountain tourism.  It is pertinent to mention here that the symposium will also witnessed four different panel discussions on various topics.

The first panel discussion was on “Green Investments in Tourism and Hospitality Sector” while the second panel discussion was on “Improving Connectivity, Aviation, Transportation and Visa Facilitation. Similarly, the third panel discussion was on “Responsible Tourism and Conservation of natural and cultural heritage”.

Furthermore, the fourth panel discussion session was on “Tourism products diversification- religious and cultural heritage tourism”. While presentations on New Tourism Products was also part of the event.

The symposium also included a captivating “Tourism Expo,” which provided an opportunity to the participants to explore the rich tourism potential of Pakistan and its provinces through booths and stalls showcasing diverse attractions. Educational and hospitality training institutes, corporates, and tour operators also presented their contributions to the tourism landscape.

This interactive expo also provided attendees the opportunity to learn about the upcoming tourism events taking place across the country, for institutions to showcase courses, interact with students, and inspire future professionals.  Moreover, COTHM Global, a leading tourism and hospitality training institute also organized a culinary show where students showcased their y art skills. — DNA