Tourism in Pakistan

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Ahsanullah Khan
In Pakistan, tourism is a growing industry. In 2010, Lonely Planet termed Pakistan “tourism’s ‘next big thing’ for more years than we care to remember”. The country is geographically and ethnically diverse, and has a number of historical and cultural heritage sites. The upsurge in tourism in the past few years has been aided by the Government of Pakistan’s recent decision to end mandatory No Objection Certificates for foreign tourists seeking to visit certain parts of the country. According to the World Economic Forum’s Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report 2017, the direct contribution of travel and tourism to Pakistan’s GDP in 2015 was US$328.3 million, constituting 2.8% of the total GDP. In 2019, Pakistan increased the availability of travel visas in a bid to increase tourism to the country. The new program grants visas on arrival to travellers from 50 countries, including the United States. Citizens of another 175 countries can apply for visas on the internet. Previously, visas could only be obtained from Pakistani embassies abroad. Gilgit-Baltistan includes some of the highest peaks in the world, including K2, the world’s second-highest peak. Gilgit Baltistan’s landscape includes mountains, lakes, glaciers and valleys. The province is also visited for its landmarks, culture, history and people.[26] K2 Basecamp, Deosai, Naltar, Fairy Meadows Bagrot Valley and Hushe valley are common tourist destinations in the province. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is located in the north-west region of Pakistan and is popular with adventurers and explorers. The province has a varied landscape ranging from rugged mountains, valleys, hills and farms. There are a number of Buddhist archaeological sites from the Gandhara civilisation such as Takht Bhai and Pushkalavati, and other Buddhist and Hindu archaeological sites including Bala Hisar Fort, Butkara Stupa, Kanishka stupa, Chakdara, Panjkora Valley and Sehri Bahlol. The province’s capital city is Peshawar, which is home to a number of sites including Bala Hisar Fort, Peshawar Museum, archaeological site of Gor Khuttree, Mohabbat Khan Mosque, old city of Sethi Mohallah, Jamrud    Fort, the Sphola Stupa and the market at Qissa Khwani Bazaar. The city Dera Ismail Khan is known as the entrance into the province from Punjab and Balochistan, and for its Hindu ruins at Kafir Kot. Mardan city has Buddhist ruins at Shahbaz Garhi. In the north of the province is the Swat valley One of the most important cities in the province is Mansehra, which a major stop for tourists setting out to the Northern Areas and Azad Kashmir. The city is connected by the Karakoram Highway, which ends in China. Along the route, there are several stops including the Kaghan Valley, Balakot, Naran, Shogran, Lake Saiful Mulook and Babusar Top. The government need to build roads and give all facilaties to the local restaurant to boost economy of the country.