Tourism in Pakistan is a growing industry.In 2010, Lonely Planet termed Pakistan as being “…tourism’s ‘next big thing’ for more years than we care to remember. [But] world media headlines [always] send things off the rails”. In 2018, the British Backpacker Society ranked Pakistan as the world’s top adventure travel destination, describing the country as “one of the friendliest countries on earth, with mountain scenery that is beyond anyone’s wildest imagination.”The country is geographically and ethnically diverse, and has a number of historical and cultural heritage sites. According to the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report 2017 released by the World Economic Forum, 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.According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, the direct contribution of travel and tourism to Pakistan’s GDP in 2016 was US$7.6 billion (PKR 793.0 billion), constituting 2.7% of the total GDP.By 2025, the government predicts tourism will contribute ₨1 trillion (US$7.1 billion) to the Pakistani economy.
In October 2006, one year after the 2005 Kashmir earthquake, The Guardian released what it described as “the top five tourist sites in Pakistan” to help the country’s tourism industry.The sites included Lahore, the Karakoram Highway, Karimabad and Lake Saiful Muluk. To promote the country’s unique cultural heritage, Pakistan launched the “Visit Pakistan” marketing campaign in 2007. This campaign involved events throughout the year including fairs and religious festivals, regional sporting events, arts and craft shows, folk festivals and openings of historical museums. In 2009, The World Economic Forum’s Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report ranked Pakistan as one of the top 25% tourist destinations for its World Heritage sites. It ranged from mangroves in the south, to the 5,000-year-old cities of the Indus Valley Civilization which included Mohenjo-daro and Harappa. The main destinations of choice for tourists to Pakistan are the Swat, Lahore, Khyber Pass, Peshawar, Karachi and Rawalpindi.
In 2016, foreign tourists visiting Pakistan stood at 965,498. Pakistan’s tourism industry attracted an estimated of 1.1 million foreign tourists annually in 2011 and 966,000 in 2012 contributing $351 million and $369 million respectively. Before declining to 565,212 in 2013 which contributed only $298 million, in 2014, Pakistan received 530,000 foreign tourists contributing $308 million afterwards the numbers rose to 1.9 million tourists in the year 2018 .By comparison, Pakistan’s domestic tourism industry is estimated at 50 million tourists who travel in the country on short trips usually between May to August The largest tourism inflow in 2010 was from United Kingdom, followed by United States, India and China.
In 2019, the government has ended the requirement of a no-objection certificate (NOC) for foreign tourists seeking to visit certain parts of Pakistan Border crossing is also announced opened and non-restricted except 10 miles of Pak-China border, Pak-Afghan border (Wakhan corridor), AJK (along LoC), GB (along LoC), Siachen (along line of actual contact.
The country’s attractions range from the ruin of Mohenjo-daro and Harappa, to the Himalayan hill stations, for those interested in winter sports Pakistan is home to several mountain peaks over 7000 m, which draw adventurers and mountaineers from around the world, especially K2. The north part of Pakistan has many old fortresses, ancient architecture and the Hunza, Chitral Valley, home to small Kalash people community and Fairy Meadows, Diamer District of Gilgit Baltistan. The romance of the historic Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province is timeless and legendary, Punjab province has the historic city Lahore, Pakistan’s cultural capital, with many examples of Mughal architecture such as Badshahi Masjid, Shalimar Gardens, Tomb of Jahangir and the Lahore Fort. Before the global economic crisis Pakistan received more than 500,000 tourists annually since 2000.
A popular American business magazine ‘Forbes’ has included Pakistan to the top ten ‘coolest places’ where tourists must go in the new year of 2019.
It has recently published a report by Ann Abel, an experienced travel writer. She after interviewing various experts at several high-end travel companies, has suggested tourists all along the world the ten best places for travelling during 2019.
The names of the places are given below in alphabetical order:
The Azores (Portugal), Eastern Bhutan, Cabo/Los Cabos (Mexico), Colombia, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Mongolia, Pakistan, Rwanda and Turkey.