Tourism is one of the key industries in the world accounting for more than10 per cent of the global GDP. The Theme for 2013 World Tourism Day (WTD) “Tourism and Water: Protecting our Common Future” appropriately emphasizes the importance of water both as a tourism resource, an asset and an essential ingredient for life. It also highlights tourism’s role in water access and the sector’s contribution to a more sustainable water future.

Pakistan is blessed with tremendous potential for tourism owing to its rich history, cultural diversity, geo-strategic position and fascinating landscapes. Pakistan is home to two ancient civilizations i.e the Indus Valley and the Gandhara. The remains of the Gandhara civilization represent one of the oldest relics of the Buddhist culture in Asia and are of great spiritual significance for the Buddhists. The impressive monuments of the Mughul dynasties and rulers, depicting the grandeur of our rich history, are captivating tourist’s attractions. Our sky high mountains and peaks, the lofty K-2 and enchanting glaciers offer a tremendous appeal for adventurers. The conventional fairs, sports, customs, traditions and arts and crafts festivals are other major attractions for tourists. Above all, the traditional hospitality and the friendly and welcoming attitude of Pakistani nation make the tourist feel at home.

The present government attaches priority to tourism as an important sector of Pakistan’s economy and wants to bring the tourism industry back on its feet. We are actively working on devising sound tourism policies and strategies to address the challenges and capitalise on the untapped potential of tourism sector. Tourism has many backward
and forward linkages that can stimulate economic activity in sectors such as hotels, restaurants, transport, handicrafts etc. It is an important means of job creation, poverty reduction and foreign exchange earnings. Tourism influences social, cultural, political and economic values, thus promoting intercultural understanding, leading to social and economic cooperation among communities and contribute to peace and prosperity in the world. Through proper development of tourism, we can also defeat the forces of terrorism as it will create income and employment opportunities for the insolvent people.

On this occasion, I extend my best wishes and feelings of goodwill for the people of The Republic of Maldives who are hosting the 2013 official WTD celebrations and urge that we should be more responsive to innovative water planning, preservation and sustainable management as a powerful instrument not only for tourism development but bringing the green revolution and ensuring ecological protection