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". This geographically and ethnically diverse country has much to offer; from natural beauty, historical heritage to cultural diversity. 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. By 2025, the government predicts tourism will contribute ₨1 trillion (US$9.5 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 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 Khyber Pass, Peshawar, Karachi, Lahore, Swat 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. 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.
The country's attraction range from the ruin of Mohenjo-daro and Harappa, to the Himalayan hill stations, which attract those interested in winter sports. Pakistan is home to several mountain peaks over 7000 m, which attracts 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.
Tourist visitors by year
UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Main article: List of World Heritage Sites in Pakistan
The table lists information about each World Heritage Site in Pakistan.
- Name: as listed by the World Heritage Committee
- Region: one of the 8 administrative units of Pakistan
- Period: time period of significance, typically of construction
- UNESCO data: the site's reference number; the year the site was inscribed on the World Heritage List; the criteria it was listed under: criteria (i) through (vi) are cultural, while (vii) through (x) are natural; sites meeting both criteria are categorized as "mixed sites"
- Description: brief description of the site
|Archaeological Ruins at Moenjodaro||Sindh, Pakistan27°19′45″N68°8′20″E / 27.32917°N 68.13889°E / 27.32917; 68.13889 (Archaeological Ruins at Moenjodaro)||26th century BC to 19th century BC||0138 !138; 1980; ii, iii||Moenjodaro is an archaeological site located on the right bank of Indus River in Larkana District of Sindh. Dating back to the beginning of 3rd millennium BC, the 5000-year-old city was one of the largest and earliest urbanized settlements in South Asia. The ruins were first discovered in 1922 and major excavations were carried out in 1930's, however after 1965 further excavations were banned due to weathering and disintegration. Only one-third of the site has been revealed so far and site conservation works have been on-going since then.|||
|Taxila||near modern Taxila, in Punjab, Pakistan|
33°46′45″N72°53′15″E / 33.77917°N 72.88750°E / 33.77917; 72.88750 (Taxila)
|5th century BC to 2nd century AD||0139 !139; 1980; iii, vi||Taxila is an archaeological site located in the Rawalpindi District, 30 km northwest of Islamabad. The city dates back to the Gandhara period and contains the ruins of the Gandhāran city of Takṣaśilā which was an important Hindu and Buddhist centre, and is still considered a place of religious and historical sanctity in those traditions.|||
|Buddhist Ruins of Takht-i-Bahi and Neighbouring City Remains at Sahr-i-Bahlol||Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan 34°19′15″N71°56′45″E / 34.32083°N 71.94583°E / 34.32083; 71.94583 (Buddhist Ruins of Takht-i-Bahi and Neighbouring City Remains at Sahr-i-Bahlol)||1st century||0140 !140; 1980; iv||Takht-i-Bahi, meaning spring throne, is a Buddhist monastic complex dating to the 1st century BC located on top of a 152 m high hill. The ruins are located about 16 km from Mardan and 80 km from Peshawar. Sahr-i-Bahlol is a small fortified city, dating from the same era, located near Takht-i-Bahi. The historical complex is a complete Buddhist monastery consisting of four main groups; the Court of Stupas, a monastic complex, a temple complex, and a tantric monastic complex.|||
|Fort and Shalamar Gardens in Lahore||Punjab, Pakistan 31°35′25″N74°18′35″E / 31.59028°N 74.30972°E / 31.59028; 74.30972 (Fort and Shalamar Gardens in Lahore)||1556||0171 !171; 1981; i, ii, iii||The Fort and Shalamar Gardens in Lahore are two distinct royal complexes from the Mughal era. The Fort is located at the northwest corner of the Walled City of Lahore and has been destroyed and rebuilt several times during its history. The Shalamar Gardens are example of Mughal Gardens which were constructed by the emperor Shah Jahan in 1642. The gardens are influenced by Persian and Islamic traditions and cover 16 hectares of land area.|||
|Historical Monuments at Makli, Thatta||Sindh, Pakistan 24°46′0″N67°54′0″E / 24.76667°N 67.90000°E / 24.76667; 67.90000 (Historical Monuments at Makli, Thatta)||14th century to 18th century||0143 !143; 1981; iii||Makli is a necropolis in the archaeological city of Thatta dating back to 14th century. The monuments and mausoleums in Makli are built from high quality stone, brick, and glazed tiles representing the civilization of Sindh of the time. Tombs of famous saints and rulers including Jam Nizamuddin II are still preserved and are evidence of Hindu, Mughal, and Islamic architecture.|||
|Rohtas Fort||Punjab, Pakistan 32°57′45″N73°35′20″E / 32.96250°N 73.58889°E / 32.96250; 73.58889 (Rohtas Fort)||1541||0586 !586; 1997; ii, iv||Rohtas Fort is a garrison fort built by Sher Shah Suri, located about 16 km from Jhelum in Punjab, Pakistan. The fort is an exceptional example of Islamic military architecture, integrating artistic traditions from Turkey and the Indian subcontinent. It was built at a strategic location on a small hill alongside Kahan River to control the Ghakkars. Its name is derived from Rohtasgarh, the site of Sher Shah's victory in 1539 over a Hindu ruler.|||
Main article: List of World Heritage Sites in Pakistan § Tentative sites
In 2004, the Ministry of Tourism pushed forward for new sites in Pakistan to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In total, 18 sites are awaiting to be categorised as of April 2014 which include:
- Badshahi Mosque, Lahore – Mosque built in 1673 during Mugal Empire.
- Wazir Khan Mosque, Lahore – Mosque built in 1635 by Shah Jahan.
- Tombs of Jahangir, Asif Khan and Akbari Sarai, Lahore – Mausoleum built in 1627.
- Hiran Minar and Tank, Sheikhupura – Built by Mughal Emperor, Jahangir in 1606.
- Tomb of Shah Rukn-e-Alam, Multan – Tomb for sufi Rukn-e-Alam.
- Rani Kot Fort, Dadu – One of the largest Fort in the world.
- Shah Jahan Mosque, Thatta – Mosque built in 1647.
- Chaukhandi Tombs, Karachi – Tombs built during Mughal Empire.
- Mehrgarh, Balochistan – one of the oldest Neolithic ruins and archaeological sites.
- Rehman Dheri, Dera Ismail Khan – Historical ruins of Indus Valley Civilization.
- Harappa, Punjab – Historical ruins of the Bronze Age.
- Ranigat, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – Archaeological remains of Buddhist monastic complex.
- Shahbazgarhi Rock Edicts, Mardan – Inscriptions of the Mauryan emperor, Ashoka.
- Mansehra Rock Edicts, Mansehra- Earliest writings of the 3rd century BC.
- Baltit Fort, Hunza Valley – Tibetan style Fort built in the 13th century.
- Tomb of Bibi Jawindi, Baha'al-Halim and Ustead, Mosque of Jalaluddin Bukhari, Uch Sharif – Five monuments of historical figures.
- Port of Banbhore – Archaeological site of historical port city on the Indus River.
There are landmarks and structures that have not yet made the UNESCO Tentative List. Long before the creation of Pakistan in 1947, there were cultures and religions that existed before the independence. Pakistan being the centre of various wars led to several dynasties and tribes ruling its lands. They left landmarks behind which some have become national icons whilst others needing the attention of concerned authorities. Some of these include:
Post-independence Pakistan retained its heritage by constructing sites to commemorate its independence by blending styles and influences from the past. Some of these include:
Infrastructure and the economy
Main articles: Economy of Pakistan, Transport in Pakistan, and Telecommunications in Pakistan
Tourism is a growing industry in Pakistan. With more and more foreign investment and funding, Pakistan was able to build its major road and air networks to cater mass movements of cargo and inter-city travel. Roads are being developed by several consultants from the Northern Areas all the way down to the Port of Karachi.
Statistics from the last decade show tourism is a "market led industry and not supply driven" which has led a large decline in travel to Pakistan. This has led to fewer tour agencies being set up and development of historical sites. It has been estimated that the public and private sectors have gradually earned less income from the tourism market causing less investment and innovation within the industry. This has led to several sites to depreciate over time and the lack of minimum international standards have left many sites in poor states. The latest budget showed that less money was being spent on research and marketing and more on defence and other fixed markets.
The 2017 World Economic forum's Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report (TTCR) ranked Pakistan 125th out of 136 countries. Low branding and marketing effectiveness and low priority the government gave to the travel and tourism industry.
Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation
Some have encouraged the government to again attract tourists to Pakistan by initiating the sponsorship of new businesses in the tourist market: building and maintaining the road and air networks to meet international standards. The maturation of human and natural resources can also contribute in development of this feeble industry. Advertising campaigns need to attract tourist by developing holiday packages tailored to explore the greater regions of the country.
In September 2004 with the bifurcation of the Minorities, Culture, Sports, Tourism and Youth Affairs, tourism was given a separate status of Ministry of Tourism. The Ministry of Tourism was responsible for the policy formulation, development, marketing and promotion of foreign and domestic tourism besides coordination and regulating of federal and provincial governments and private sector activities responsible and involved in tourism.
However, it was not able to achieve any of its objectives and was abolished under Constitutional requirements in Pakistan on June 30, 2011. The promotions of tourism was transferred to the provinces. Now each province runs its own organization that is responsible for tourism. It is now part of Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation or PTDC. It is now responsible for the development of tourism sector.
- Tourism Development Corporation of Punjab (TDCP) is working in Punjab for the promotion of tourism sector.
- Culture Tourism And Antiquities Department - Sindh
- Department of Tourism - Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
- Secretary of Culture, Tourism & Archive - Baluchistan
- Tourism, Sports, Culture and Youth Department - Gilgit-Baltistan
- Department of Tourism - Azad Jammu and Kashmir
Tourism by province and territory
Pakistan is subdivided into four provinces (Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Sindh), two federal territories (Islamabad Capital Territory, Federally Administered Tribal Areas) and two autonomous regions (Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan).
Main article: Tourism in Gilgit-Baltistan
Gilgit Baltistan is the capital of tourism in Pakistan. Gilgit Baltistan is home to some of the highest peaks in the world, including K2 the second highest peak in the world. Gilgit Baltistan is rich in landscape, mountains, lakes, glaciers and valleys. Gilgit Baltistan is not only famous for its mountains — it is as beautiful as their landmarks, culture, history and people.K2 Basecamp, Deosai, Naltar, Fairy Meadows and Hushe valley are the most beautiful places to visit in Gilgit Baltistan.
Ambulance on Attabad Lake Hunza
Main article: Tourism in Balochistan, Pakistan
Balochistan is the largest province by geographical area of Pakistan, constituting approximately 43% of the total area. Balochistan is home to one of the oldest Neolithic (7000 BC to c. 2500 BC) sites in archaeology. Mehrgarh and Nausharo was an ancient city linked to the Indus Valley Civilization. Ancient sites dating back 800 years are the Nausherwani tombs at Qila Ladgasht. There was also an ancient port at the site of Oraea which proved to be a useful port during the Hellenistic civilisation.
Quetta is the provincial capital of Balochistan. There are a number of sites of interest including the protected Hazarganji-Chiltan National Park, Hanna Lake, Quetta Geological Museum, Balochistan Arts Council Library, Quetta Archaeological Museum as well as Command and Staff College Museum. The Quaid-e-Azam Residency is another major site in Balochistan in the city of Ziarat. Ziarat is famous for the juniper forests which are the oldest and largest in the world. Sibi, is an important historical city in Balochistan. The Jigra Hall has a collection of pieces found at the archaeological sites of Mehrgarh, Nasshero and Pirak. The annual Sibi Festival marks the famous Horse and Cattle Show.
There are a number of mountain passes within Balochistan. The Bolan Pass has been the main entrance to the provincial city of Quetta. There are several others including Lak Pass, Khojak Pass and Harnai Pass. The Balochistan coastline extends from the Sindh province to the Iranian border measuring a total distance of over 750 km. The city of Gwadar holds the largest port in the province which is based near the ancient area of Makran. Pasni is another beautiful medium-sized town famous for fishing. Along the Makran Coastal Highway there are several rock formations as well as Kund Malir and the Hingol National Park.
Main article: Tourism in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is located in the north-west region of Pakistan. It is known as the tourist hotspot for adventurers and explorers. The province has a varied landscape ranging from rugged mountains, valleys, hills and dense agricultural farms. The region is well known for its ancestral roots. There are a number of Buddhist archaeological sites from the Gandhara civilisation such as Takht Bhai and Pushkalavati. There are a number of other Buddhist and Hindu archaeological sites including Bala Hisar Fort, Butkara Stupa, Kanishka stupa, Chakdara, Panjkora Valley and Sehri Bahlol.
Peshawar is the provincial capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The city 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 most famous market of Qissa Khawani. The city of Dera Ismail Khan is known to be the entrance into the province from Punjab and Balochistan. The city is famous for its Hindu ruins at Kafir Kot. The Buddhist ruins at Shahbaz Garhi are also famous in the city of Mardan. Heading North, the divisions Swat valley One of the most important cities in the province is Mansehra. The city is a major stop for tourists setting out to the Northern Areas and Azad Kashmir. The city is connected by the famous Karakoram Highway which ends up in China. Along the route there are several stops including the Kaghan Valley, Balakot, Naran, Shogran, Lake Saiful Mulook and Babusar Top. There are also several other sites within the province which attract a large number of tourist every year including Ayubia, Batkhela, Chakdara, Saidu Sharif, Kalam Valley and Hindu Kush mountain range in Chitral.
There are also several mountain passes that run through the province. One of the most famous is the Khyber Pass which links Afghanistan with Pakistan. The trade route sees a large number of trucks and lorries importing and exporting goods in and out of the region. The Babusar Pass is another mountain pass connecting the Thak Nala with Chilas on the Karakorum Highway. The Lowari Pass is another pass which connects Chitral with Dir via the Lowari Tunnel. The highest mountain pass in Pakistan is Shandur Pass which connects Chitral to Gilgit and is known as the Roof of the World. The pass is the centre of three mountain ranges – Hindukush, Pamir and Karakoram.
Main article: Tourism in Punjab, Pakistan
Punjab is the second largest province in Pakistan. It is known for its ancient cultural heritage as well as its religious diversity. The lands of Punjab have been home to a number of religions and civilisations. The Indus Valley Civilization once ruled the region and a significant archaeological find was discovered at the ancient city of Harrapa. The Gandhara civilisation was also quite dominant in the northern region of Punjab at the site of Taxila. Several other civilisations such as Greeks, Central Asians, and Persians ruled Punjab leaving a number of sites which still exist today. The arrival of Islam came about during the rule of the Umayyad Caliphate followed by the Ghaznavids. The Mughals took control of the region and ruled its land for several centuries. The mughal heritage remained quite strong in Punjab with a large number of forts, tombs and monuments still intact today. The Durrani Empire ruled the Punjab at the fall of the Mughal Empire for a short period following the rise of the Sikh Empire. The strong control of the Sikhs also lead to a number of sites still remaining intact throughout Punjab. The British Raj took control of the region until the independence.
Tourism in Punjab is regulated by the Tourism Development Corporation of Punjab. There are a number of large cosmopolitan cities in Punjab. The provincial capital, Lahore is the second largest city of Pakistan as is known to the Cultural Heart of Pakistan. The Mughal Empire left behind the Lahore Fort and Shalimar Gardens which are now recognised World Heritage Sites. The Walled City of Lahore, Badshahi Mosque, Wazir Khan Mosque, Tomb of Jahangir and Nur Jahan, Tomb of Asaf Khan and Chauburji are other major sites visited by tourists each year. The tomb of Qutb-ud-din Aibak from the Delhi Sultanate is located in the historical market of Anarkali Bazaar in Lahore. The Samadhi of Ranjit Singh and Hazuri Bagh Baradari are prime example of Sikh architecture during the rule of the Sikh Empire. There a number of other sites within Lahore such as Minar-e-Pakistan, Lahore Museum, Data Durbar Complex, Tomb of Muhammad Iqbal, Bagh-e-Jinnah, Lahore Zoo, Tomb of Shah Jamal, Sukh Chayn Gardens, Gaddafi Stadium which all create a large number of visitors annually.
Rawalpindi is known to be a famous hill station stop for tourists before setting out to Murree, Bhurban, Patriata, Northern Areas, Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan. The Pharwala Fort is a major fort on the outskirts of the city built by an ancient Hindu civilisation. There are a number of sites from the Mughal Empire in the city of Sheikhupura
Right away in this post we will going to discuss in detail about the importance of tourism in Pakistan. We all know that Pakistan has been blessed by nature with some of the excellent and breath-taking tourist spots that are placed nearly all over the country. There are many historical sites that are being captured in all the cities of Pakistan. In simple each single city of Pakistan is enriched with the brilliant looking sites that are simply love to watch once in a lifetime. We have the places of worth-seeing at Banbhor, east of Karachi, in the company of its famous museum.
Popularity of Tourism in Pakistan:
Makli in Sindh is found to be one of the large graveyards east of Karachi. This place is accompanied with the famous museum. Makli in Sindh has the largest necropolis. This place is known out to be one of the famous. Following is the list of some of the eye catching places of tourism in Pakistan:
- Some of the attractive places in Pakistan are Moenjo-daro near Taxila, Harappa near sahiwal, the Lahore Fort, the Badshahi Mosque, Jehangir’s and Nur Jehan’s tombs and the Shalimar Gardens in Lahore.
- The Khyber Pass in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa all the way through which conquerors from Afghanistan and Iran entered India is found to be one of the natural sites that is simply taken as the image of history.
- Murree, Ayubia, Swat, Kagan and Naran in the north and Ziarat in Balochistan are few of the brilliant places in Pakistan.
- Kalam and its famous Mahudan lake in north are defined to be the paradise of the natural beauty. It is one of the hightest lake on earth whose depth is still not known by any one.
- You can find the natural beauty in the mountainous Khyber Pakhtunwa, its valleys, lakes and streams.
- The Hunza valley in the north is close to the famous K-2 and Rakaposhi moutains that is one of the highest peaks. You can find Harappa near Sahiwal.
All the tourism places in Pakistan is managed by Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation. Its main offices are set in Lahore, Karachi, Islamabad and Abbotabad. We have mentioned the list of some of the eye catching places in Pakistan. Don’t forget to visit them all!