Pakistan has an irresistible breath-taking natural landscape along with centuries old cultural heritage that is most diverse and distinctive, and its people are famously one of the most hospitable in the world. Now with the defeat of the ominous forces of terror, peace is back and Pakistan is welcoming tourists from all over the world. Pakistan provides the experience of a land rooted in centuries of civilization that has so much to offer in the way of the new – from archaeology to anthropology, history to culture and architecture, nature, adventure sports, and amazingly mouth-watering cuisine, Pakistan has it all to cater to a wide range of tourists’ interests.
Tourism can not only help promote the soft image of the country but it can also potentially be a big part of Pakistan’s economy by bringing in the much needed business that will contribute to poverty alleviation. Businesses that are directly associated with tourism can likely bring in a huge amount of revenue. However, like all other sectors of the economy, tourism too demands that women be included to help it flourish.
When devising tourism policy, strategies should be developed to target areas in which women can contribute the most. The most apparent in this regard are the SMEs where women can work out of their homes while engaging in manufacturing products that are attractive for tourists and providing services that give tourists a flavour of the uniqueness of our country. There needs to be a focussed approach towards identifying the problems that women might face in their ventures, and finding solutions to facilitate as well as promote their businesses. E.g., authentic local cuisine is something tourists want to experience when they travel to a foreign land and so women can have great prospects in this domain. They can run small cafes out of their houses that will not only give tourists a taste of local delicacies but also the experience of the everyday life of their hosts. Souvenir shops often sell products like jewellery and handicrafts that are commonly manufactured by female labour. Such skilled females should have access to soft loans and consultancies to help set up their own businesses so they can contribute more efficiently to their own and the country’s economy.
In addition to engaging more women in tourism related businesses there is also a need to try to encourage more females from within the country as well as foreign female travellers to sample all that Pakistan has to offer. Family tourism is thriving but facilities for solo female travellers have a lot of room for improvement. In this regard, not only physical infrastructure should be made available but there should also be women facilitation centres that can help ensure security and ease for women who are travelling on their own.
Pakistan has been declared the ‘ultimate adventure travel destination’ by Forbes in 2020 after being on the British Backpackers Society’s 2019 list for best adventure destinations. Tourists can partake in adventure sports of all sorts depending on where in Pakistan they are travelling. The heartening thing is that there are adequate facilities for females in this area, however, this needs to be advertised to make full use of the potential of this sector.
Pakistan can make use of all that it has been bestowed and give its guests the most memorable experience. But while we make sure that we expand our tourism industry, we have to make sure that women have a stake in it. Moreover, both domestic and foreign female tourists should be made to feel safe and well looked after so that they will endeavour to explore the splendour of Pakistan — its rich natural beauty, historical and cultural heritage, adventure sports, and an ethnically diverse population renowned for its hospitality and friendliness. HH
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