Tourism plays a crucial role in projecting soft image of a country. It generates employment opportunities, supports economic growth and is a source of foreign exchange. The developed countries earn trillions of dollars annually. Moreover, the Egypt earned 389 billion Egyptian Pounds in 2018 and Turkey earned $2.45 billion only in three months this year with COVID restrictions. Malaysia earns nearly $20 billion annually through maritime tourism.

     Tourism in Pakistan can be broadly classified into four groups: religious tourism, eco-tourism, cultural and historical tourism.

Eco-Tourism:Eco- tourism is site seeing. e.g. mountains, lakes, valleys, glaciers, etc.

Mountains: In Pakistan, there are two mountainous regions. The south western mountainous region and the northern mountains. These ranges include Karakoram range (K-2 is situated in it), Himalayan Range (Nanga Parbat is situated in it), Hindukush Range (Tirchmir is situated in it), etc.

Lakes: There are many lakes in Pakistan which attracts people and engulfed them in natural beauty. Some of them are Attabad Lake, Saif-ul-MAluk Lake, Ansoo Lake, Rush Lake, Mahodand Lake, Haleji Lake, etc.

Valleys: Pakistan is blessed with beautiful valleys which include Hunza Valley, Bumburet Valley, Chitral Valley, NAltar Valley, Neelum Valley, etc.

Glaciers: glaciers are located mostly in northern areas of Pakistan. Some of the glaciers are Siachen glacier (located in Karakoram range), Baltoro glacier (located in Baltistan), Batora glacier(located in Gojal), Biafo glacier (located in Karakoram Range), Hisper glacier (located in Baltistan).

Forests: Pakistan has less forests as compared to other countries. A country must have its 25% area covered with forests. But Pakistan has area less than 5% covered with forests. Changa Manga is the biggest forest in Pakistan covers area of 12,515 acres.
There is a lot of work to do in eco tourism, although government of Pakistan has started 10 Billion tree tsunami project but there is more to do. The roads reaching mountainous areas are very narrow and there is a chance of land sliding all the time, so tourists feel anxious due to these factors. There are less hotels to accommodate tourists near lakes. Also the local people there are poor. So government should put a bird eye to these areas or should launch public private partnership projects in these areas to promote tourism. If easy access is given to the tourists then these areas can generate billion dollars only through their natural beauty and Pakistan can left behind Switzerland (total area almost 10% of Pakistan) which earns $47 billion dollars annually only through eco tourism. The projects must be launched to conserve wildlife which are oxygen of forests. Pakistan’s National animal Markhor has also become an endangered species. Strict laws should be made against killing and hunting animals. The craze to earn Dollars through wood has made our land deforested land. 

Cultural tourism: Pakistan has many sites which have cultural significance. Some of these are;Taxila, Kot Diji, Harappa, Moenjodaro, etc. these cities can promote tourism as well as northern cities in Pakistan because there are lush with culture which attracts people. The site of Taxila is lush with Ghandara art and is declared as World Heritage site. people living in these areas can earn a lot through tourists by giving people an easy access to these areas. 

Religious Tourism: Pakistan is religiously very important to  Sikhs, Buddhists and also Hindus. Religious tourism is a thriving yet largely unexplored industry in Pakistan; a country packed with landmarks of various religious ethnicities. With a hefty economic potential, religious tourism in Pakistan faces a number of challenges.

The Karterpur Corridor, a joint initiative between India and Pakistan is  located  in  the  in  Punjab.  It  is  intended  to  link  a  Gurudwara darbar Sahib,  the Indian border. The potential of religious places in Pakistan, especially those related to Sikhism  and Buddhism, is likely to increase and requires further efforts. Today Pakistan is a meeting point for a variety of previous religions. On 9, Nov. 2019, Pakistan hosted thousands of Sikhs from across the world for one of  their  religion’s  most  sacred  festivals,  the  550th  birthday  of  Sikhism  founder Guru Nanak.  Where they  celebrated birth  anniversary,  the  November  9 was  the opening  session  also  of  a  long-sought  visa-free  corridor  to  a  holy  temple  in Pakistani  border  village  of  Kartarpur (  Narowal)    that  promises  pilgrims  from India a  reason  for elation.  To  get to  the  village where the guru died, they  had to first secure a visa, travel to  the eastern city of Lahore and then arduously drive tothe temple or be content with viewing it  through binoculars from India. Now, upto  5,000  Indians were  allowed  access  daily  through  the  corridor,  which includes roadways, an 800-metre bridge over the Ravi River and an immigration office. Punjab  is  home  to  five  most  important  pilgrimage  sites  for  Sikhs.  They include the birthplace of Baba Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikh religion who wasborn in 1469 in Nankana Saheb district, and Gurdwara (monastery) Punja sahib in Hasan  Abdal  town,  where  the  handprint  of  Guru  Nanak  is  believed  to  be imprinted on a boulder at the monastery.

Pakistan’s second largest minority also worshiped the water of a Katas Raj temple  after  Christians because  they believed  that  the  lake was  filled with  tears from Shiva, one of the most important deities in Hinduism. The Katas Raj Temple in the northeast of the Chakwal District and the Sadhu Bela Temple in the south of the Sukkur District are the two most visited religious places of Hindus around the world.

The religious tourism can boost economy if Government provides security to the visiting people. 

Historical Tourism: The historical tourism has always played a magnificent role in the economy of Pakistan. Mughals had made many historical sites in Pakistan such as Shalamar garden, Badshahi Masjid, etc but there are many sites which has became a part of history such as fort of rohtas, etc. The government should have to aware people about unexplored historical sites so that the lovers of history will have a new destination. 

This analysis is written by Muhammad Labeeb.