ISLAMABAD:Italy is ready to extend technical and financial assistance for promoting sustainable tourism in Pakistan which will eventually help redress specific social issues. Italian Ambassador to Pakistan Stefano Pontecovero held out the assurance during a meeting with Chairman National Tourism Coordination Board (NTCB) Sayed Zulfikar Abbas Bukhari on Wednesday.
The envoy said Italy was willing to extend technical assistance to Pakistan for the execution of community-based projects in the tourism sector to alleviate poverty, generate income, and support youth employment. Lauding Pakistani government’s steps for tourism promotion in the country, he said the opening of Kartarpur Corridor was a landmark initiative. He said Prime Minister Imran Khan had emerged as a leader in the comity of nations due to Pakistan’s remarkable foreign policy initiatives.
Zulfikar Bukhari, who is also Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Overseas Pakistanis, assured the ambassador of his government’s full support for the execution of Italian initiatives in tourism sector. After the restructuring of Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC), he said the government was planning to lease out the Corporation’s 40 properties for 30 years in a bid to transform it into a profitable entity. A special cell for data analysis of the tourism sector was also being set up in the PTDC, he added. He said the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government was enhancing coordination with the provinces through NTCB to boost tourism.
“Around 20 billion US dollars will be added to the Pakistani economy, with the successful development of tourism industry,” he remarked. Zulfikar Bukhari said Pakistan had achieved a major milestone by opening the Kartarpur Corridor which would eventually promote the religious tourism in Pakistan. He said the government was working on the development of ‘Brand Pakistan’ to project the country as a tourist haven that would eventually increase influx of foreign tourists. He said the government, in collaboration with provinces, was developing the Gandhara Corridor to attract tourists from the South East Asian Countries. “Pakistan attaches great importance to sustainable tourism in Pakistan and will focus on religious tourism, adventure tourism, cultural tourism, and towards the growth of intangible cultural heritage,” he added.