Natural disaster and the future of tourism in Pakistan

Tourism is when people are drawn to exciting destinations, often to relax and escape their daily routines. Pakistan’s scenic, natural landmarks have attracted an increasing number of people, this is backed up by the fact that Pakistan witnessed a 2.8% increase in their GDP from the tourism sector from the years 2017 to 2019 ($15 billion in 2019 compared to $8.8 billion in 2017). Furthermore, tourism has created 4 million jobs in the tertiary industry (in Pakistan alone) supplying the people with income through providing services.

Unfortunately, due to the most recent floods in Pakistan which were ultimately caused at the hands of climate change. Melting glaciers coupled with torrential rainfall led to the country’s worst flood in history, causing the deaths of over 1700 people and displacing over 7.9 million. For tourism this has been a devastating blow with many landmarks being destroyed such as a Buddhist temple, tombs and ancient wall over 4500 years old. As well as this the infrastructure has been heavily affected with over 400 bridges destroyed, over 9000 miles of roads destroyed and flash floods destroying 50 hotels just in Hazara and Malakand alone. The loss of jobs has resulted in the negative multiplier effect and left people with no source of income and shelter making them vulnerable to starvation and disease and in unfortunate cases even death.

Both on a national and international level tactics have been taken to combat the results of the catastrophe. The government of Pakistan has reached nearly 3 million households providing them with PKR 25,000 to help them buy necessities such as food to get themselves back to their normal lives as soon as possible.

International humanitarian and charitable well-known organisations such as UNICEF, British Red Cross, Oxfam, and many more have extended their arms to those affected individuals, providing them with food packages, tents, and most importantly clean water. People having access to clean drinking water are vital after a natural disaster such as a flood, as all the water reserves get contaminated. This water will ultimately lead to diseases like cholera, killing further people as a secondary effect. Also included in the emergency supplies were first aid kits. Once more the importance of this item cannot be overlooked; these kits will allow all injured people to disinfect their open wounds, which could be a cause of a deadly infection if not tended to. Additionally, this action will help prevent the spread of contagious infections to others. The aid provided by the Pakistani government and the aid from overseas has almost given a second life to people who were on the verge of death.

Even though these primary  responses by Pakistan were beneficial for the people affected by the current floods, many argue that Pakistan needs to take steps at a larger scale such as building dams which although at first can be seen as an expensive investment, they are in fact one of the best counters to floods and steps like these will cement a more safer future for the residents of Pakistan in flood risk areas. Furthermore, the government should consider rebuilding infrastructure that is able to withstand the fury of mother nature in the case of a future calamity.

Overall, the contribution of travel and tourism has dropped noticeably and it’s understandable that it’s key to revive Pakistan’s most worthy economic sector from deteriorating. Even though the government and foreign countries donating aid are taking care of this drawback on a large scale, everyone who deems this as a crisis can donate to charities to fund the people affected in the hope that a collective effort may make the effects of this adversity less fatal.

Now more than ever Pakistan needs you!

Asma Parveen

PhD scholar Superior University Lahore Lecturer Department of Commerce, University of Gujrat.