God has blessed Pakistan with Karakoram mountain range that is the most beautiful on earth and top to it we have the highest Khunjerab Pass connecting China that is now second largest economy of the world. Our prime minister is keen on promotion of Pakistan, even I would justify claiming that he is the first PM who speaks that much on this segment. Being tourism professional I feel moral obligation to support him to fulfill his dream to make Pakistan tourism hub. Being a neighbor like China is not less than a blessing and if we remain unable to get due share out of this treasure then the problem lies somewhere within ourselves.
Pak-China Link Tourism:
As Professor Dani said that one day there will be millions of tourists travelling on Karakoram Highway (Silk Route) and I believe that the time has now come to fulfill the dream by taking full advantage of CPEC, especially bringing Chinese tourists of Xinjiang province into northern areas of Pakistan. Our tourism statistics say that 70% of foreign tourist traffic is either coming from China to Pakistan or going from Pakistan to China, therefore this is high time to aggressively market this new avenue of tourism in the world, especially in China. We may attract reasonable traffic if not millions even in 2021 by bringing change in visa regime and offering other incentives for Chinese tourists. The followings are some facts about Chinese Tourism Market.
Market Size of China Inbound Tourism:
Annual Tourist Arrivals – 63 Millions (in 2019)
Annual Income is more than – 42 Billion USD
Market Size of China Outbound Tourism:
Annual Tourists – Outbound Tourism is – 70 Million
Net Spending on Outbound Tourism is – 257.7 Billion USD
Market Size of Xinjiang Inbound Tourism:
Annual Tourist Arrivals (domestic) in Xinjiang is more than 50 Million Tourists
Annual Income is more than 7 Billion USD
Projected Annual Tourist Arrivals from Xinjiang to Pakistan is 3 Million for 2020
Projected Annual Income is 1.5 Billion USD
Xinjiang Tourists Influx to Pakistan:
China plans to build Xinjiang into a major tourism hub along the Silk Road Economic Belt, a China-proposed initiative to boost cooperation with Central, South and West Asian countries.
Xinjiang has set a target to receive 55 million tourists and earn more than 100 billion yuan (nearly 8 billion USD) in tourism revenue in 2021.
The regional tourism bureau, Xinjiang is striving to promote tourism this year through the “Beautiful China, 2021 Year of Silk Road Tourism” campaign launched by China National Tourism Administration to attract tourists to scenic spots along the Silk Road Economic Belt.
Tourists from Kazakhstan accounted for more than 70 percent of overseas tourist arrivals in the region of Xinjiang.
In the light of above it would be high-end negligence if we don’t take full advantage of CPEC route – Pakistan should immediately announce visa free entries for Chinese and Kazakhstan citizens.
Include Kazakhstan with CPEC Tourism:
As major influx of tourists (more than 70%) in Xinjiang is from Kazakhstan, it is therefore we need to plan our strategy to capitalize this this segment at its fullest. We need to announce same visa policy for Kazakhstan as for China.
As Higher Khunjerab Pass as Higher Earning of Foreign Exchange:
Pakistan is currently passing through a critical economic situation and such ordinary conditions requires extra ordinary and out of box solutions. The statistics shows that in 2018 the Chinese outbound tourists spent 277 billion USD that is an eye opener for all of us. We would be one of the top illiterate nations if we fail to bring as lower as 7 billion USD to Pakistan. I can guarantee that this much revenue is not a big deal if we follow the following given steps in this document.
Establish Khunjerab Tourism Park in Sost (Pak-China Border):
The statistics of global tourism says that Chinese tourists are the #1 in holiday spending power and no one is even close to this reality. The study also tells us that 30% of a Chinese tourist is spent on shopping that is the key motivator behind the creation of this strategy to build a Tourism Park. So we have 277 Billion USD just lying across the line – I would rather say it is not only low hanging tree but the lowest and full of fruit. I am sure that if the government increase focus and prioritize the segment then we can say IMF goodbye forever. In the light of above research and facts it is recommended to set Karakoram Tourism Park that would consist of one five star, one four star and a shopping mall. The Shopping Mall would have variety of shops including Gem Stones, Gold Souks, Handicrafts, Clothing Material etc – little similar to Packages Mall of Lahore but with little modification (for instance no need of grocery stores etc) and more environment friendly structure.
Free Shuttle Service Between Tashkurgan and Sost:
Free shuttle service would be one of the main tourism incentives for CPEC Tourism. All projects would be funded on self-reliance basis by GB chamber of commerce with the help of hotels in Tourism Park and other enterprises of shopping mall – however government may support for first year if needed.
Setting Up Foreign Tourist Helpline in Sost:
There is no more era of tourist information centers, therefore the same office would be used as Foreign Tourist Helpline. This office would be connected with all concerned departments of Gilgit Baltistan. It would have positive impact on the hearts and minds of the Chinese tourists that the government is taking care of us.
We should announce Pak-China Tourism Year 2021 and complete homework before going campaign in this regard. The following incentives should be announced for affective campaign.
• Announce 180 days free visa/ entry to Chinese and Kazakhstan tourists
• No entry fees to sites
• Exclusive hotel rates for Chinese tourists (with collaboration of Hotel Associations)
• Special tariff deals on airlines operating to China
• Special package for shopping rebate (with collaboration of chambers)
• Exclusive discounts from transporters for Chinese
• Tour operators would offer cost-effective tour packages
Visa on Entry Points for Chinese and Kazakhs:
We should come out of reciprocal rhetoric on visa issue with China and announce one sided visa policy by opening Pak-China border for Chinese and Kazak citizens. Pak should announce 180 days entry visa up on arrival at all entry ports of Pakistan that would revolutionize tourism industry of Pakistan. Visa would be given without any supporting documents such as bank statements and job proof etc – only passport would be required.
Tourism can only grow if there is peace in the country and that is why Pakistan needs to spend all possible resources to overcome this menace. We need to make and declare KKH a safe route for foreign tourists by installing CCTV cameras throughout CPEC routes. We need to take some concrete steps to provide sense of safety to our guests to boost tourism. There are some following remedies in this regard.
Priority Actions for Security:
In this current scenario of security we need some extra ordinary measures to send a positive message to the world that we care and well concerned about the security of foreign tourists. It is therefore Pakistan need to create a new police force with the name of Punjab Tourist Police that will closely work with tour operators and the hotels managements of the respective cities. The current model of Malaysia Tourist Police is the ideal model for the growth of inbound tourism to become self-sufficient in providing security to foreign tourists. A team of security professional may be sent to Malaysia for in-depth study with regard to creation of this special security force.
“Malaysia beckons to travelers from all around the world because of its diverse destinations, colorful culture and the delightful hospitality of the locals. But besides these, Malaysia’s reputation as being a safe place for foreigners has improved, also due to the efforts of the Tourist Police. It is a division of the Royal Malaysian Police Force, primarily entrusted with the task of ensuring the safety of international travelers visiting the country. The tourism sector is regarded as a major income generator for the country – with estimated earnings of up to EUR 16 billion yearly – thus the presence of such a specialized police force has been beneficial in boosting the country’s international image.”
Creation of Tourist Police:
This is utmost need to protect tourists to boost tourism in Pakistan – special units of Tourist Police are successful model in Thailand, Malaysia, Nepal, Korea, Myanmar and even in Bangladesh. Presence of tourist police on roads is also important but following Chinese model we should more focus on CCTV security system.
• Tourist Police would be fully equipped with all latest communication devices along with CCTV cameras fixed on their mobile vans – vans should be latest imported, specially designed for policing purpose.
• Tourist Police would be provided helicopter rescue service to handle all kind of emergency situations.
• Tourist Police personnel would enjoy all benefits and entitlements same as other Punjab Police.
• Tourist Police headquarter would be centrally located within the premises of any allotted place by the central government.
• There would be helicopter for tourist police stationed at all provincial capitals of Pakistan.
By adopting above mentioned security measures, it would send a positive message across the world that Pakistan care tourists and want to have tourists that was lacing so far. The young generation of Sikh community and other western tourists are more security conscious, especially due to recent law and order situation. Though it is far better than before but we would nevertheless face some after affects. So, giving high level security and spreading this message in the world would boost tourism. Tour operators would add special security arrangements as part of their services inclusion.
There is need of helicopter services in all provinces of Pakistan to protect tourists, especially more services in GB and for CPEC route. This service would also be used as rescue service in case of accidents.
Funding for CPEC (Karakoram Tourism Park):
The government role is to acquire the land and then sell it to GB Chamber of Commerce who would further sell it to the entrepreneurs on no profit-loss basis. Chamber of Commerce would invite the big names of hotel industry and the shopping malls for further development. In fact, there is no government funding involved in the project of KTP.
After spending whole life in tourism field I am pleased to share the idea of Khunjerab Tourism Park that would change the fate of Pakistan and there would be no need of IMF thereafter. Later on we would initiate the same idea in Lahore, Islamabad and Peshawar. This document is prepared after a deep research work and firmly believes that the expected outcome will be guaranteed. Being NTCB member (religious group), I am proud to have shared some valuable ideas like “Pilgrim is tourist and tourist is pilgrim” in erecting new visa regime that is now working, so I hope that government take my ideas serious for the betterment of Pakistan’s economy.
Author of Document: Mehmood Malik (Member NTCB Religious Group)