Despite being a relatively untapped sector and with great potential to help Sindh’s economy, tourism has long been unable to gain momentum in the Southeast Province.
Experts and stakeholders related to the scourge industry strongly believe that Sindh’s unique geography gives it great capacity for an exhaustive list of tourism options such as ecotourism, religious tourism, archaeological tours and the wildlife exploration. However, it is the lack of a viable tourism policy on the part of the Sindh government that has hindered the industry from contributing to the growth of gross domestic product or facilitating the employment sector, as often envisioned.
âMany countries around the world that only practice artificial tourism contribute up to 60% to their economy. It is very unfortunate that we have natural tourism potential, but the provincial government has not finalized its policy and has prevented the province from targeting its full tourism potential, âsaid Dr Ghulam Murtaza Lahbar, PhD in tourism.
Citing the example of Malaysia, Thailand, Dubai, Egypt, Turkey, Maldives and Singapore, he said that these countries have succeeded in creating a safe environment for their visitors and offering them a variety of entertainment options in each city. âWe don’t have nightlife in our cities. How safe can foreign tourists feel when they see armed guards roaming left, right and center. So, obviously, we are currently at zero in terms of tourism, which is why the federal government must stick to promoting the northern regions year after year, which is not enough, âhe said. added.
Elaborating on the absence policy, Dr Lahbar said when drafted it will need to be holistic in its approach and focus on more public-private partnerships, easy visas for foreigners, better transport options. , accessible housing, local security and the development of infrastructure, which, according to him, is only possible with greater coordination between the departments concerned. “Without politics there is no statute for tourism and the government seems to be without a vision,” he said.
Speaking in a similar vein, Mujahid Shah, who recently launched the Indus Tourism Club with the aim of promoting local tourism, shared that Gorakh Hill, a hill station located at an elevation of about 6,000 feet in the Kirthar Ranges of Dadu District, has the potential to be a popular tourist destination. âBut the road infrastructure leading to the site is in dire straits and getting around is risky business. Other than that, there is no access to clean water, adequate accommodation or even toilets at many of our tourist sites, including this one. If the government plans to work on these fundamental issues, Gorakh has everything it takes to be the Murree of Sindh, âShah said.
Speaking to the few rest houses built by the provincial government in some of the tourist hot spots, the owner of the Indus Tourism Club said that barely a single tourist entrance is reported here in Kai, Sehwan, Manchar or on the historic sites of Bhambore. He went on to claim that the only visitors to these guesthouses are the friends and family of influential politicians, who tend to use these places as their own. âThe Sindh Culture Department has built a state-of-the-art Rooplo Kolhi complex in Nangarhar, Tharparkar district, which is too expensive for locals to live there. Apart from that, the facilities at Keenjhar resort in Thatta district are also so expensive that people with their families cannot afford it, âShah lamented, adding that there was no initiative. appropriate from government for tourism promotion and monitoring of existing sites.
When the Express Tribune reached out to Sindh Tourism Development Corporation (STDC) officials for their comments on the matter, most seemed unaware of any tourism policy plans and rather unwilling to talk about it.
For example, Adil Ahmed, deputy director of STDC, as a senior manager of the department, had no idea of ââthe importance of a tourism policy. âWhy is politics necessary if we win more than the exception. Do you have a policy for running a newspaper? When asked if there was any work being done on a potential policy, he said, âWe made around 25 million rupees from tourism last year. If we can earn such a huge amount during the pandemic, then why are policies mandatory? The director replied, while speaking to The Express Tribune.
Posted in The Express Tribune, January 2sd, 2022.