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Tourism- a catalyst for poverty reduction

By Ahmed Janjua

Tourism is now believed to provide an impetus to the economic progress of developing nations and its importance is gaining widespread recognition. In fact, the relationship between exports and growth is the subject of ongoing debate, but the nature of exports has received little attention.

Despite the continuous efforts of developing countries to increase their exports, this strategy often adds little foreign exchange to their balance of payments. For many reasons, the non-traditional exports of developing countries have too often failed to prove effective in economic development and so tourism is increasingly seen as something of a savior.

Tourism is an activity which cuts across conventional sectors in the economy. It requires inputs of an economic, social, cultural and environmental nature. In this sense it is often described as being multi-faceted. The problem in describing tourism as an ‘industry’ is that it does not have the usual formal production function, nor does it have an output which can physically be measured, unlike agriculture.

There is no common structure which is representative of the industry in every country. In Malaysia and Italy, for example, restaurants and shopping facilities are major attractions for tourists, in Euro-Asia they are not. Even the core components of the tourism industry, such as accommodation and transport, can vary between countries.

In the UK many tourists use bed and breakfast accommodation in private houses; in Singapore such facilities are not available. In the transport sector, levels of car ownership and developed road networks cause many tourists to use their cars or buses in Western Europe and the USA. In Indonesia, most tourists travel by air. It is some of these problems of definition which have caused to refer to the tourist sector rather than the tourist industry.

PTI Government in general and Prime Minister Imran Khan in particular repeatedly seen to have wished for Tourism industry to get a jump start in Pakistan. Being a graduate in Economics, PM knows what impact Tourism industry can bring on Financial Statement of this country provided tourism industry is taken as a part of Economic Development Policy in collaboration with Law & Order Ministry, Horticulture Department, Environmental Ministry as well as the local governments’ involvement with an agenda on promoting domestic tourism so much so to the level of schools & colleges.

This government needs to profess its emphasis on tourism and economic development, identifying the contribution that tourism can make to development, including foreign currency, income and employment, and the costs that it entails. Despite the significant attention paid by tourism academics and practitioners to sustainable tourism development in recent years, there has been a consistent failure within the tourism literature to relate the concept to the theory of its parental paradigm, sustainable development.

As a result, the applicability of sustainable development to the specific context of tourism is rarely questioned. Reviewing development theory and the notion of sustainability, it proposes a model of sustainable development against which the principles of sustainable tourism are compared. It is argued that tourism development remains embedded in early modernization theory whilst the principles of sustainable tourism overlook the characteristics of the production and consumption of tourism. As a result, significant differences between the concepts of sustainable tourism and sustainable development are revealed, suggesting that the principles and objectives of sustainable development cannot be transposed onto the specific context of tourism.

Tourism cannot be outsourced. Therefore, in an era with growing globalization, tourism is a particularly interesting industry. It is really incomprehensible that political regimes in this country had not opened their eyes for the benefits in the form of income and employment, and acted accordingly with an effort & vision to promote tourism to and in Pakistan.

Tourism has been claimed a crucial component shaping globalization, which is why this government needs to identify the forces underpinning globalization and assess the implication in both the supply side & the demand side of the tourism sector. Tourism industry must not be worked upon in silos but as a part of economic globalization, because globalization characterizes the economic, social, political and cultural sphere of a country, while in return the developments of tourism sector are under the influence of growing interdependence across the world. There is more to globalization of tourism than the cross border flows of customers.

There are different manifestations of globalization of the tourism industry, like many other business systems, its going under irrecoverable globalization process.

Pakistan needs to come up with a cohesive tourism policy plan to keep with the trend in the world, asserting the idea of tourism as a part of economic development policy, outsourcing, transitional ownership structures, cross border marketing collaborations through brand ambassadors & National Carrier, tourism fairs, free movements of labors are developments not confined to tourism industry alone but also can act as a catalyst to help revitalize economic development policy.

Britain is forecasted to have tourism industry worth over 250 billion pounds by 2025 just under 10% of country’s GDP and supporting almost 3.8 million jobs which is around 11% of total UK number. Tourism’s impact is amplified through economy so its impact is much wider than just the direct spending levels. The tourism industry is world’s largest commercial service sector industry. In 2016, U.S. travel & tourism output represented 2.7% of GDP while the majority of activity in the industry is domestic, expenditures by international visitors in the United States totaled $244.5 billion in 2016 yielding a $84 billion trade surplus for the year.

Pakistan is lucky to have diversity of tourism products available to its nation and to the world, from religious tourism to one of the highest skiing resorts in the world; however it is imperative that tourism industry is taken as major contributor to the factors that keep economy afloat. The size of industry comes from society’s desire for things we don’t necessarily need but we desperately want. We don’t need to go on expensive holiday but we do want a chance to be able to afford one.          

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