Considered to be one of the world’s largest and fastest growing economic sectors[20], Travel & Tourism (T&T) has the potential to create prosperity for the global population.[21] The sector made a noteworthy contribution of 10.3% to worldwide GDP in 2019, but with travel restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic, its contribution declined to 6.1% in 2021. Overall, T&T’s contribution to world GDP dipped to 4.2%, and this sector suffered around a US$ 3.8 trillion loss.[22] T&T’s contribution to the GDP of Pakistan also declined to 3.7% in 2021 from 5.8% in 2019, which approximates a loss of 970.8 billion PKR.[23]

In 2019, one in 10 jobs worldwide were from the T&T sector; however, with the Covid-19 pandemic, the ratio declined to one in 11 jobs, reducing the number of employed individuals to 289 million, which was 333 million in 2019. In Pakistan, the contribution of the T&T sector to total employment was 6.1% in 2019, but the percentage dropped to 5.1% in 2021.[24] The Asia-Pacific contribution to the T&T jobs was 185.1 million in 2019[25] , but due to the pandemic, it fell to 159.22 million in 2021.[26]

The most recent Travel & Tourism Development Report (2021) by the World Economic Forum gives an insight into the current standings of countries in the tourism sector. Moving to a global rank of 83[27] (2021) from 89 (2019) and to a score of 3.6[28] from 3.5,[29] Pakistan shows a slight improvement in the booming global tourism industry.

T&T’s contribution to the GDP of Pakistan also declined to 3.7% in 2021 from 5.8% in 2019, which approximates a loss of 970.8 billion PKR.

In 2019, worldwide international tourist arrivals had touched 2.4 billion[30], with domestic spending amounting to US$ 4.2 trillion and international spending amounting to US$ 1.7 trillion.[31] However, the pandemic decreased the spending of domestic visitors by 45% and of international visitors by an unparalleled 69%.[32] As shared by the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index 2019 (TTCI), there were 965,000 international arrivals in Pakistan which generated US$ 351.6 million.[33] During the pandemic, domestic and international visitor spending declined in Pakistan. However, in 2021, domestic visitor spending (PKR 1396.2 billion) remained higher than international visitor spending (PKR 138.8 billion).[34]

Moving to a global rank of 83 (2021) from 89 (2019) and to a score of 3.6

Host to diverse natural and cultural landscapes, Pakistan holds the potential to become a top tourist destination. The country was termed the least competitive in South Asia according to the WEF’s 2019 T&T Competitiveness report[35], and its T&T sector’s contribution to GDP was predicted to reach a mere 3% by 2028.[36] However, the country’s T&T sector’s contribution has already surpassed this prediction, reaching 5.8% in 2019, which declined to 3.9% in 2020 and 3.7% in 2021 due to Covid-19.[37] With the global industry’s contribution, the world’s GDP is expected to increase by almost 50% in the next ten years.[38] The tourism sector of Pakistan can flourish more in the coming years as we have already seen an improvement in its ranking by six points in the TTDI 2021.[39]

Seeing the tourism industry as a source of lifting the economy, the previous government prioritised it in their 100-day agenda[40] and included it as a significant contributor to inclusive economic growth in their manifesto.[41] In the last government (2018-2022), tourism in Pakistan saw a revival.

Now, in 2022, this profile will give an insight into Pakistan’s current position in tourism by looking at where the country stands in terms of the key indicators affecting its tourism sector. The international indicators and the 17 pillars under which they will be classed have been derived from Travel & Tourism Development Index 2021 (TTDI). The Index deals with the set of policies and factors that enable the sustainable growth of the travel and tourism sector. The profile will include only those indicators from the report that are taken from secondary sources by the World Economic Forum.