The World Tourism Forum Institute (WTFI) is holding recovery townhall sessions to communicate its plans to boost world tourism to industry players who have been hit hard by the global outbreak of the Covid-19 coronavirus. Due to the drop in the tourism market since the Covid-19 outbreak earlier this year, the World Tourism Forum Institute has taken proactive measures by meeting with industry players to get the latest updates about the tourism industry. The Recovery Townhalls encompasses this message of solidarity and hope that the WTFI calls for a common responsibility for dealing with the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic between tourists and the tourism sector worldwide.

Accordingly, World Tourism Forum Institute CEO Sumaira Isaacs, had a meeting with the Special Assistant To PM Imran Khan & Chairman of the National Tourism Coordination Board of Pakistan,  Syed Zulfi Bukhari within the scope of WTFI Recovery Townhall meetings. Below you can see the highlights of the meeting:

From terrorism to tourism

Pakistan was thought to be an unsafe destination. Her image has changed under the rule of Prime Minister Imran Khan and Bukhari’s Chairmaship from terrorism to tourism.

Bukhari said that eventhough there were a lot of efforts had been made, there were still some negative stories around the destination and added that the image of Pakistan would change before the eyes of international tourists gradually.

Where was Pakistan regarding the tourism plans during pre-Covid-19 times?

Syed Zulfi Bukhari told that tourism was neglegted earlier in the country. However, Pakistan was naturally a tourism destination with her scenic beauties, and added there were some economic situations to overcome to make her a tourism destination. One of the most important economic drives in the World was tourism. So under the power of Prime Minister Imran Khan, their goal was to take the GDP contribution of tourism to the country from 2.9% to 7-8%. They were were just taking off before the Covid-19. Bukhari mentioned that there were also positive articles about Pakistan tourism in Bloomberg and Conde Nast Traveller. Tourism was their top agenda and they took a lot of advice from World Tourism Forum Institute.

Government’s precautions regarding Covid-19 from the perspective of tourism

Bukhari stated that they realized that the tourism industry in Pakistan and around the World had been hit the most. It was the peak of tourism until the end of summer before the Coronavirus crisis, and added that they built up crisis management teams, SOPs and Ehsaas emergency cash to take as much pressure from employers as possible.

PM has from the 1st day waved the olive branch, and has desired that we want to see the India-Pakistan border function like the European Union. While Pakistan has opened itself to the world India is isolating itself with its policies. We have opened the Kartarpur Corridor because we didn’t want the Sikh community to suffer & we want steps taken to benefit both countries.

Current situation in Pakistan in terms of Covid-19 crisis

Bukhari highlighted that the current situation was relatively less effecting in comparison with the other countries. Prime Minister Imran Khan said and done things in a progressive

way so that his ideas were followed by the other countries. He also added that they worked with the embassies to help them to take their citizens to home and Pakistani government made it possible by making sure their flights had been taken care of. Pakistan had only shut down her airspace for 2 weeks and people were free to leave the country. Bukhari added that they had some precautions for the people coming to Pakistan.

Potential of Pakistan’s diversity in tourism

Zulfi Bukhari mentioned that they had a great diversity in the tourism of Pakistan from beach coastlines, green-top mountains, best deserts, ancient history to markets, bazaars, traditional clothing, cuisine and added that their most important plus was the hospitality of the Pakistani people.

Relations with India in terms of Covid-19 diplomacy

Bukhari stated that they had wonderful relations with China, Iran and Afghanistan. He also added that the India was the second largest economy in the World and they just wanted the India-Pakistan border to be like European Union, which could be easily crossed by the people of each country for both tourism and business purposes.

Investment opportunities Pakistan is offering

Bukhari highlighted that they were trying to make investment in Pakistan as easy as possible especially in their tourism zones. When the Covid-19 erased from the World, there would be a huge boom in tourism and he also added that they had a lot of initiatives going on now to be actualized as soon as the things would go normal.

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