Tourism in Pakistan: without it, people die of hunger. A myth?

Tourism in Pakistan and Economy

It is a myth that there are regions where the whole income of people depends on tourism. Swat is presented as one example. It is one of the most-touted tourism destinations in the northern areas of Pakistan.

The only industry is cognate to tourism are hotels or restaurants which don’t contribute in any way significantly to the local economy as the hotels are owned by upper classes, often by non-locals have them as surplus income. Maximum a few hundred people have been working in them as staff, whereas, Swat has a population of more than 1.5 million. The main source of income for people of Swat is expat remittances and horticulture as well as agriculture. The economy doesn’t depend on tourism at all. There is supplementary income to very few people because of tourism but no one has tourism as their source of income.

Swat was traditionally and historically victuals-basket for the region but now because of the mindless hotel industry and ruthless ‘development’ the agriculture has gone and peach orchards have superseded the little land for agriculture.

Some of the tourist valleys can be reached through roads but connected to those valleys are communities, who live in the mountains and people have to tread for hours to access the road, for example,  tourist destinations like Kalaam, Bahrain, and Malam Jabba. Those communities live in very different biodiversity and thus have different immune replications.

Coalesce this with the fact that there is only one immensely colossal public hospital, Saidu Edifying Hospital, in Swat which was built in the era of Swat state and has only a few buildings/infrastructure integrated in the last 50 years.

There are sub-division hospitals but they are in shambles. Corona already has wreaked havoc there. Now, if tourists are allowed in the valleys and if those communities come into contact with the virus, lt will take days for them to shift any patient to the hospital. So, how will they handle the affected patient?

 The  residents of swat complained and quoted in their social media accounts that:

Please stop that at these destinations people live on tourism and they will die if you don’t have your summers. No one lives on tourism in Pakistan, maybe except Murree.

It is a myth, and tourism has no significant connection with the local economy. People won’t die if there is no tourism, But people will die if there are no facilities (roads and the hospitals) for residents.

People of tourist spots are not happy with the facilities provided by the government and they are not satisfied with the argument that the economy depends upon tourism which is a myth in their regards.

PM Imran Khan Niazi quoted in his account that :

Many countries’ economy depends upon their tourism and we are going to make Pakistan a tourist destination in the coming years, we are working day and night to show the beauty of Pakistan to tourists which will directly help or boost our economy.

PM Imran khan wishes to convert Pakistan’s economy into a tourism economy. Pakistan has no doubt got immense potential to boost its tourism. It is home to many naturally beautiful places in the world, like Gilgit Baltistan, Swat, Azad Kashmir, Ranikot Fort and Mohen Jo Daro in Sindh, Ziarat valley in Balochistan, etc, which will directly help the economy but on the other hand residents of the tourist areas are not gaining any profits as being residents opportunities should be given to them other than big businessmen. They express that our hunger does not depend upon tourism as we are not getting any profit out of tourism but people of the upper class are getting benefits from their restaurants and hotels. The government should provide loans to the local people to start their businesses and to promote tourism, obviously after the end of coronavirus pandemic.

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