It is undeniable that technology plays a significant role in the current era of globalization. We are living in the 21st century where a single aspect of our lives depends on technology. From minor to major, science plays its role. Everything is shaping and moulding according to technological advancement. It is transforming how we inform and connect ourselves, our behaviour, and even sustainability and innovation. Pakistan is a developing country and is undergoing progressiveness. The country is trying to make more use of technology and innovation in every walk of life. So is the case with the tourism industry, which at present is one of the most prominent, leading as well as rapidly growing industries across the globe. Pakistan is also on its way toward digitalizing its tourism machinery, which is impeding positive growth in the future and will play a part in the GDP of the country. With the ever-rising digitalization, different levels of strategies can be applied to any industry.
Nowadays, companies comprehend that to stay competitive, they need to excel in their services by providing profound and helpful technological services to their customers. The travel industry is no excuse. Digital tourism is on its way to taking off. As peace begins to reign after a long and brutal war against terrorism, tourism is now seen as a potential economic contributor. It is evident from recent international trends after Forbes Magazine and several others enlisted Pakistan among the top 10 countries to visit in 2020. There is a lot of potential for attracting tourists just by using social networks to promote beautiful natural scenes. The boom of social media has taken over the entire world in its lap. Each side of human life and also the surroundings are evolving on social media. Together with several alternative aspects, the tourist industry has been greatly influenced by this medium of technological advancement and communication system. Each and every part of the globe is being represented on social media, which has brought the entire world onto one platform. Thus, the touristic spots, historical places, the endemic culture, and alternative aspects are published and marketed on this platform, which is creating new methods for the promotion of tourism within the country. Also, this medium has a positive aspect that has helped the country’s image, and more tourists are drawn to the new and interesting places in Pakistan.
The potential of tourism in Pakistan:
Pakistan is diverse in terms of geography and culture, which it encompasses. From tourists to religious sites, the nation has incredible potential for tourism. Pakistan has a larger potential for this industry due to its scenic beauty, seasonal changes, varied culture, historical places, high-altitude mountains, and mineral and organic substances. According to the World Trade Organization (WTO) 2020, Pakistan’s tourism will grow by US$39.8 billion at intervals over a decade. This suggests that, together with the immeasurable potential for tourism in Pakistan, the aid of tourism may even boost the economy to a different level. Together with this, the availability of facilities at intervals in this sector can become simple, reachable, and manageable for all. However, due to political unresponsiveness and disregard, most of the potential is lost. Pakistan’s riotous history has dominated its unused tourism potential, and the post-9/11 circumstances have assisted in defacing the country’s image around the world. Luckily, the circumstances are changing. In recent years, the government of Pakistan has given crucial significance to the tourism segment. A number of worldwide seminars and occasions have been organized to advance the country’s tourism potential. Travel blogs by foreign bloggers have boosted tourism within the nation. International organizations have also made a difference in prioritizing Pakistan’s tourism potential. In 2018, Pakistan was positioned as the best tourist destination for hiking by the British Packer Society. Samuel Joynson, one of its authors, positioned the nation at the front of the list only because of the friendliness and hospitality of the local people and the sensational mountain view. Pakistan’s northern belt is frequently compared to Switzerland for its unimaginable views and potential for snow sports. Similarly, the best travel magazine, Conde Nast Traveller, positioned the nation as the best in its list of travel goals for the world in 2021. The magazine stated that the guests will discover that not much has changed since the Mughal period; they can investigate the winding trails, the peaks’ gemstone mines, and the grand Pixie Knolls. Forbes also ranked the nation as the best visitor destination. Also, after the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2019, has made a valuable contribution to the country’s tourism potential.
The Benefits of Digital Tourism:
Digitization has provided multiple benefits to our tourism industry. They may include;
Major information shift: In the past, tourism used to be based on connections and personal relations, which provided limited opportunities to tourists, including service-based information by enterprises. With the arrival of digital technology, people can now explore and gather information from the internet with fewer service-based activities and can be seen as more information-based.
Creating competition: There is a lot of stuff available on social media as well as on different sites. Thus, private enterprises, as well as hotels, must come up with something extra to excel in their business. Thus creating more competition, which in turn provides more consumer benefits.
Job creation: Digitalization has also caused an increase in jobs on online platforms for activities like e-commerce, social media marketing, and other media marketing.
More consumer-based: Prior to digitalization, the sector was more service-based, where consumers had limited options. With the arrival of technology, tourism has become more consumer-based, which helps and appeals to the masses to industry.
Trends and challenges:
As the virtual age rises to a brand new level, virtual techniques may be implemented in nearly any enterprise. The tourism industry recognizes that in order to compete, it must develop meaningful, useful business and technological improvements for its customers. Nowadays, human beings are seeking out destinations for travel and locations to live in. They tried this online, too, so requests for human assistance were captured with the aid of the virtual era. Carrying a cellular smartphone and attempting to find the preferred vacation spot on more than one structure is a whole lot less difficult and quicker. For regular human beings and tourist suppliers, that is a massive change. If any organization within the tourism or leisure industry can’t keep up with the trend, it is going to be very harmful. The tourist platform must offer distinctive statistics and more than one alternative in a single package; otherwise, traffic will go away from the site, hoping to discover any other better site. Artificial intelligence may be used to automate obligations formerly done with the aid of humans and boost particular mastering processes. At the same time, it may enhance excellent and overall performance even at the lowest cost. People need to stay in contact even while visiting to get beneficial journey recommendations or percentage of their reviews with friends. Therefore, for travel carrier providers, it’s really well worth making an investment in wi-fi networks to boost the visitor experience. This virtual technology can enhance content advertising and tourist experiences. In addition, with the assistance of AR, they could, without delay, offer commands with the smartphone’s camera.
The following steps can be taken in order to enhance digital tourism in Pakistan:
1) Technological innovations in Hotels:
Steps should be taken to provide online services, including online bookings, which are currently under development. Tourist hotels in main tourist spots should be equipped with such facilities so that travel becomes easier and more convenient for tourists, especially foreigners.
2) Online Flight Booking:
International, as well as national flights, should be booked through the online system for reservations, and payments should be made using the online banking system for time-saving and a comfortable experience.
3) Promotion on Social Media:
Since each and every part of the world is known to be portrayed on social media, Governments, private enterprises, as well as private influencers and vloggers should try to publicize famous tourist spots, religious and historical places, and indigenous culture.
4) Digital Awareness:
The government, in cooperation with private enterprises, must come up with a literacy program on the impact of digitization on tourism. For this, a specified system can be formed that provides awareness through conducting workshops, social media campaigns, and awareness seminars.
5) Using VR technology, especially for foreign tourists:
Virtual Reality (VR) technology can be used for making VR tourism videos that, though working like normal videos, can be viewed on websites or social media, but the user can find the entire scene by playing the video. Such technology must be provided, especially to attract foreign tourists as well as domestic ones. The government must start working on it.
With the modernization of communication and information technology, every aspect of life has moved towards a digital version of itself. So it is with our tourism industry, which is seen as potential as well as a rapidly growing market for the future. If we provide basic facilities to tourists, tourism can be a billion-dollar industry in our country. Pakistan is on its way towards the digitization of its tourism industry, which is showing positive growth in the post-COVID-19 era and will contribute to the GDP of the country. Moving this sector towards digitalization will make it cheaper and easier for the country and tourists. Furthermore, by portraying the brilliant images of tourist spots using social media and other means, and providing suggested policies and awareness on the part of the government and other stakeholders to promote tourism culture, will add growth to the tourism industry in Pakistan.