Capacity-building of locals can help promote tourism sectorBreaking

May 06, 2024

Capacity building of local communities and other stakeholders is necessary to empower the tourism sector. By doing so, new employment and business opportunities will arise, bringing a handsome revenue to the state coffers, said Managing Director of Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) Aftab-ur-Rahman Rana while talking to WealthPK. “To develop the capacity of service providers, tour operators, travel agents, and hotel or restaurant owners, the PTDC is working on a comprehensive training program. Capacity-building of visitors is also part of the plan aimed at making them responsible tourists. “In this regard, the PTDC has also published a pictorial literature in Urdu and English with true behavioral demonstrations to help the visitors learn about local cultural values and cleanliness. The literature also encourages the visitors to buy local crafts/products to popularize the resident cottage industry,” he said.

Aftab said the PTDC was also initiating a series of ‘tour guide training programs’ across Pakistan because without them, tourists could never get an authentic experience. “Unless there are a large number of self-taught tour guides available, no authentic tourist spot-related information can be shared. There is a dire need for a larger number of professionally educated youths as tour guides so that when the tourists return, they can explain the local culture, values, history, area, and landscape in its true spirit,” he said. “Another step taken by the PTDC is to start short-duration training programs with the coordination of touring and hospitality institutes related to housekeeping, front office managers, food production staff, and F and B (food and beverage) service staff. “The PTDC did sign certain MOUs with different instututions like Cotham (College of Tourism and Hotel Management), and Baltistan University to establish a center of excellence for mountain tourism in Skardu.

We are working hand in hand with the academia, provincial tourism departments, and private-sector tourism associations to standardize the tourism sector in Pakistan,” the PTDC managing director added. Talking to WealthPK, Managing Director of Sindh Tourism Development Corporation (STDC) Syed Feyaz Ali Shah said, “Efforts from the tourism departments at both federal and provincial levels are a continuous feature. The ‘capacity-building programs’ is a vast subject to address responsible tourism, cultural presentation, heritage conservation, eco-care, and business development, and to strengthen collaboration among the local communities and professional services providers. They need a special planning focus to make this sector resilient and thriving. “Besides, planning, investment, and business development are also important features of capacity building. The STDC is working on all these features through its publications, dialogue sessions, and involving the stakeholders’ opinion”.

Talking to WealthPK about the capacity-building of communities belonging to the tourist spots and other stakeholders, Deputy Director of Tourism Department, Baltistan Rahat Karim Baig said, “To ensure long-term sustainability of the tourism sector, capacity-building programs for tour operators and related communities play a vital role. All in-kind regular efforts enhance their hospitality standards and potential to keep the tourist spots presentable. “With time, the tourism sector is steadily gaining momentum. The number of both inbound and foreign tourists is increasing per annum. Sustainable tourism not only ensures socio-economic benefits, but is also a key to environmental conservation. So, continuous efforts are being made by all the relevant stakeholders like the tourism dept, administration, and civil society at the provincial level to conduct capacity building and awareness sessions and programs,” he said.

Credit: Independent News Pakistan