Tourists return to Pakistan

After a lapse of three years, foreign tourists are set to return to Pakistan this season.The country has had the misfortune of being in the middle of events that has kept tourists away. Starting from the detonation of a nuclear device in 1998 which was followed by the overthrowing of the Nawaz Sharif government by General Pervez Musharraf all the way to 9/11, Pakistanhas had virtually no relief from making its way to international headlines albeit for the wrong reasons.

image Its proximity to Afghanistan, where the “war on terror” started, did not help either. International press carried horrific and mostly exaggerated and inaccurate articles on how Taliban and Al-Qaeda were roaming freely on the streets of Pakistani cities. Nothing could have been further from the truth.

That having been said, businesses related with the foreign tourist market are holding their breath and hoping nothing deters the positive trend being witnessed. Major tour operators are reporting a 400 percent increase in bookings over the last two years.

Travel advisories have either been removed or diluted allowing foreign tour operators to make bookings for the 2004 season. The easing of tensions between India and Pakistan has also contributed to the graph heading north. 2004 is also the mighty K-2’s 50th birthday and many events are planned at the mountain’s base camp.

Renowned climbers from across the globe are coming to pay respect to the mountain that has challenged their will and resolve over the years. Coupled with this, the Pakistan Government has also announced up to 50 percent reduction in climbing fees for all peaks in excess of 6,000 meters.

By Azam Jamil
eTN Islamabad

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