World Tourism Day is celebrated by United Nations on 27 September each year to raise awareness about tourism at the international level. This year draws special attention to the role of tourism in contributing in Community development. Capital Development Authority, in collaboration with Alpine Club of Pakistan held a meeting to celebrate the day in a befitting manner at the Pakistan- China Cultural Centre, Islamabad which was chaired by Mr Mohammad Azam, Secretary Ministry of Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage, Government of Pakistan.
It was attended by large number of tourism industry personnel, CDA officials and Alpine Club of Pakistan members. Dy Director General Tourism, Environment and Sports in his opening remarks highlighted importance of the day and displayed sights of various scenic areas of Pakistan.
Lt Col (Retd) Manzoor Hussain, President ACP in his keynote presentation highlighted the immense tourism potential of Pakistan, due to its geographical diversity. He described various tourism products which are, and can be offered by Pakistan. However, at the same time he presented data about dismal visitations to Pakistan as compared to rest of the world and South Asia. He emphasized involvement and empowering of local communities in preserving their tourism assets, which in turn can bring development and prosperity to these very communities, helping poverty alleviation. He presented case studies of Kalash valley, Kaghan Valley, Khunjerab and the recently established Central Karakoram National Park. He also highlighted the important factors needed to empower and involve local communities in promoting tourism. In the end he listed difficulties being faced in promoting foreign tourists inflow, besides the much haunted law and order situation, prominent being absence of Tourism coordinating agency at federal level after devolution of Ministry of Tourism and delay in issuance of visa to the intending visitors.
Dr Maria Sultan, Director General SASSI in her address highlighted the importance of tourism in the modern era as a tool for economic multiplier. She emphasized on change of mind set and shifting of strategic priorities towards the tourism. She supported the case of empowering the local communities in preserving their tourism assets. Mr Arif Aslam, Chairman Shangrilla Hotels, in his address lamented the various negative factors hindering inflow of foreign tourists. He advised shifting of tourism focus and polices towards promoting domestic tourism. Mr ASIF Shahjehan, Director General Tourism, Environment and Sports while thanking the participants and the speakers highlighted the various projects being planned and implemented for the promotion of tourism in the Capital Territory.
The Chief Guest agreed with several observations made by the speakers and emphasized that efforts be continued at all levels in promoting tourism, irrespective of the impediments involved. He emphasized that our rich historical and archaeological heritage must be highlighted at the international level and narrated his personal experiences and efforts made in this direction during his foreign assignments in Germany and USA. He arranged exhibition of Gandhara civilization in USA which lured a large crowds who showed their keen interest in the archaeological heritage of Pakistan. He emphasized incorporation of Sofiasm in the tourism products. He assured Ministry’s and his personal support in resolving various impediments being faced by the tourism industry.
In the end the Chief Guest inaugurated the photo exhibition, specially arranged on the occasion by Mr. Karrar Haidri, the Press Secretary and member of ACP Executive Council. The exhibition displays various enchanting and scenic spots of various parts of Pakistan ranging from the mountains and valleys of Gilgit-Baltistan to other parts and plains. The Chief Guest appreciated the skills of the photographer Mr Karrar Haidri in capturing these luring and beautiful photographs