'Pakistan, once a major holiday destination, lost its status as a tourist country'

Speakers at Pakistan Tourism and Climate Change Conference discuss why Pakistan couldn't become a tourist attraction

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  • Speakers discuss tourism in Pakistan and the climatic issues associated with it.
  • "Pakistan has the right to be seen and understood": PSCA President Sardar Siddique Khan.
  • Dr Sajjad Saeed terms Pakistan and Azad Kashmir as the most beautiful regions in terms of tourism.

BRUSSELS: The Pakistan Tourism and Climate Change Conference in Brussels, Belgium, discussed why Pakistan has not been able to become a tourist attraction during the last five decades despite being one of the most beautiful countries in the world.

The conference was organised by the Pak-Belg Socio-Cultural Association (PSCA), a civil society organisation of Pakistani diaspora and students studying in various universities across Belgium, to promote tourism in Pakistan and Azad Kashmir.

Students from local universities, KU Leuven, VUB University, Ghent University, and other institutions, attended the conference.

Speakers at the conference held at the European Press Club, Belgium, spoke about tourism in Pakistan and the climatic issues associated with it.

It was stated at the conference that Pakistan, which once used to be a major holiday destination in the 1960s and 1970s, has lost its status as a tourist country.

PSCA President Sardar Siddique Khan introduced his organisation to the participants, saying that the purpose of this venture was to strengthen bilateral relations between Pakistan and Belgium through cultural interaction.

“This will help bring people of the two countries closer and build on the common values ​​of democracy and pluralism.”

He said that Pakistan is one of the oldest civilisations in the world with vast glacier valleys, snow-capped peaks, legendary gardens of Shalamar, and the rich land of the famous Khyber Pass.

He further stated that Pakistan is home to different races, languages, foods, and traditions. “This land has the right to be seen and understood,” said Khan.

The conference went on with a panel discussion, moderated by journalist and intellectual, Shiraz Raj.

A researcher from Ku Leuven, Dr Sajjad Saeed, in his address termed Pakistan and Azad Kashmir as the most beautiful region in terms of tourism.

Saeed advocated for Pakistan being the safest region in the world in terms of public safety and hospitality for foreign tourists while inviting visitors from all over the world to visit this region and see the “masterpiece” of natural beauty. 

Moreover, he also shed light on the climatic threats faced by the region.

“The countries in the region could not accurately assess the impending climate threats facing the region,” Saeed said.

He said that currently, the world leaders want to come together for COP-26 and bring the global temperatures down, but according to his research, the climate change effects are doubling in the Himalayan region of South Asia.

Saeed stressed the importance to remember that freshwater for agriculture and human consumption depended on glaciers in the world's most populous region.

“The glaciers are melting fast, and landslides and other hazards are likely to increase.”

He expressed the concern that the rain-fed monsoon system could become chaotic and cause catastrophic floods as he hoped that the people trying to attract tourists to the region don’t ignore these climatic issues.

While discussing the goals of tourism and how it can help build a better world, Dr Shirazi, who is a lecturer at various foreign universities, highlighted the importance of infrastructure and the attitude of the people for promoting tourism.

On the occasion, the Counsellor of the Pakistani Embassy in Belgium Raheel Tariq congratulated the president of the PSCA, Sardar Siddique Khan, on this effort.

In his analysis of the regional situation as a Pakistani, Tariq provided a brief account of the recent events and commended Pakistan for slowly emerging from the clutches of these incidents.

According to Tariq, one of the criteria for assessing Pakistan’s progress in regaining its status as a tourist could be that five million people visited the country last year.

Tariq invited tourists from the rest of the world to visit Pakistan and enjoy its beautiful sceneries and views at the tourist destinations, assuring them of all possible assistance on behalf of the government of Pakistan and the Pakistani Embassy in Belgium.