Apr 13, 2020, 5:30 PM
Journalist ID: 2053
News Code: 83749622
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Dark clouds of coronavirus hover over Pakistan's tourism industry

Islamabad, April 13, IRNA -- Few months have passed since Forbes magazine's enlisted Pakistan among top 10 tourist destinations in 2020, however, the global spread of coronavirus is casting dark clouds over future of Pakistan’s tourism industry.

Pakistani media which is analyzing the impact of coronavirus on different sectors, say the spread of coronavirus has devastated the tourism industry with major tourist destinations seeing limited visitors while several airlines are engaged in limiting their operations.

In December last year, Pakistan’s official news agency APP reported that Condè Nast, one of the world’s best travel portals, had listed Pakistan as one of top tourist destination for 2020.

Outlining the adventure tourism potential in the country, the magazine wrote: “Pakistan has more peaks taller than 22,965ft than China and Nepal combined, making it an almost magnetic spot for adventure travelers and intrepid hikers.”

In recent years, the Pakistani government has lifted visa restrictions on foreign nationals in order to attract more tourists, in addition to trying to overcome the challenge of terrorism, which has severely affected the tourism industry.

The official visits of Queen Maxima of the Netherlands and British royal couple, Prince William and Kate Middleton have also played a very important role in boosting the tourism industry of Pakistan.

Foreign tourists battling corona these days

Most of the foreign tourists, especially mountaineers traveling to Pakistan, are from Italy, Germany, Spain, Poland, Japan and South Korea, the countries which are battling coronavirus outbreak these days.

According to daily ‘Dawn’ report there is no doubt that Pakistan will not see large number of tourists from these countries in the coming months.

May to August is the season for foreign tourists to visit Pakistan, however due to the global epidemic no foreign tourists have registered themselves with Pakistani travel agents for the upcoming season so far.

Peaks in northern Pakistan host foreign climbers every year, but the coronavirus crisis appears to be blocking foreign tourists, which would directly target nearly 3,000 people in Pakistan.

Hamza Khalid, president of the Pakistan Travel Agencies Association, said the situation in the country has hampered not only the foreign tourists but the domestic tourists also who are no longer willing to travel and visit the attractions.

Corona crisis devastating those associated with Pakistan’s tourism industry

The crisis is expected to spread to all sectors of tourism industry, including airlines, travel agencies, tours operators, hotels, tourist guides and the fishing industry.

According to Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) officials, the aviation industry has been severely affected by the Corona crisis, and Pakistan's state-owned airline alone has suffered a loss of 4 billion rupees so far.

Pakistani tourism activist Kamil Ahmed, who attracts foreign tourists, say the cancellation of foreign tourist trips has already affected the business of thousands of people in various parts of Pakistan, including residents of tourist areas.

Economists and tourism activists in Pakistan say the government should rush to the aid of the aviation industry, travel agencies and travel companies to save the tourist industry from the coronavirus crisis, while softening the tax on special financial packages to support those affected by the tourism sector.

They said Pakistan's tourism industry has recovered with great difficulty in recent years, and if the government does not do anything to support them in the current situation, it will cause an irreparable damage to Pakistan’s tourism industry.

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