For this year’s Pakistan tourism summit, an American travel blogger Alex Reynolds a.k.a “Lost with Purpose” was invited to come speak. But later on, her talk was cancelled because apparently not everyone would get a chance to speak and present on the Prime Minister’s panel. But was this the real reason ? No, according to Alex, the talk was actually cancelled because she made a presentation representing the reality to travel to Pakistan. Though the presentation was critical, the blogger states that she was never de-promoting the travel industry, but only stating some facts that hinder travel in Pakistan.
On April 13th the blogger posted a video about the talk she was suppose to present after she was silenced. The blogger explained that despite the fact that the purpose of the summit was to talk about travel in Pakistan, there was no one ready to talk about critical things related to travel in the country.
There are a few points that really got us wondering:
1. Pakistan is NOT an EASY COUNTRY to travel in.
The young blogger states that the the current social media coverage is misleading and claims that Pakistan is a PAIN to travel in. If foreign travelers travel alone to Pakistan, they are most likely to face a lot of problems like “unoﬃcial travel restrictions, harassment from security agencies, unclear bureaucratic procedures and mandatory armed escorts”.
Alex talks about how there are a lot of logistical issues that need to be sorted. “If we don’t make people aware then people travelling alone will come here and face problems and since the current reputation of Pakistan is already fragile, the country will be at risk.”
Alex thinks the country CAN ﬁx It
- Publish a list of places where you need NOC.
- Police needs to be instructed to not harass the foreigners.
- The government and the media need to stop publicizing policy changes unless they are actually active.
We completely agree with this point and believe that with better planning and transparency, we can really help make Pakistani tourism a positive experience for travelers.
2. Pakistan is a GORA (Fair-Skinned) COMPLEX country?
The blogger states that white people are given some sort of royalty treatment that not all foreigners are given. She states how they are given free gifts and access to places that not all people get.
The problem is that, Pakistanis are generally taught to be hospitable to their guests. Many travelers like to travel to far flung areas of Pakistan and discover the untouched natural beauty this region is known for. Not every street vendor in a remote village can discern a foreigner from a local. *Not to be racist*, but for these locals, it’s easier to tell the diﬀerence by their appearance AND, the color of their skin. Since they assume that most fair-skinned people are probably tourists, they give them respect and treat them like guests. This is one point that we will be defensive about since we take our hospitality very seriously!
3. Pakistanis bloggers not represented on the travel summit.
Pakistani bloggers were noticed by their ABSENCE! They have been travelling and documenting Pakistan way before foreign travelers reached the spot. However, there were no local inﬂuencers on the panel. There shouldn’t be a competition between local and foreign influencers, they both should work together to promote Pakistani tourism.
Pakistani bloggers should have been invited to participate in this summit as they can share a completely diﬀerent perspective and love for their own country. Though the summit tried to stick to foreign bloggers to get validation, it would have been better with Pakistani bloggers as well.
Our Final Verdict – LOST WITH PURPOSE NEEDS TO POST ANOTHER VIDEO – And Pakistani Tourism need to get its act together!
One thing that we all looked for in travel blogger Alex’s 15 minute video was the reason to travel to Pakistan. Though the blogger mentioned that this is her FIFTH VISIT to Pakistan and how Pakistan is an incredibly welcoming country, and much safer than the foreign media make it out to be, the video never stated what made her come back to Pakistan again and again. Was it because of the hospitality of the locals? And did this hospitality outweigh all the negatives she mentions above? Was it the rich history? The unexplored terrain? Or a ‘je ne sais pas’ that even SHE can’t put her finger on?
As much as we agree with her idea to post a ‘transparent image’ of the country to the world, travelers to Pakistan also need to hear about the good things. After all, as Alex mentions in her video, Pakistan’s image is very fragile in the world media. Whenever we travel to a new country, we want to hear both the good and the bad. For Alex, the pros of travelling to Pakistan obviously outweigh the cons. We really hope to see her next video telling us why she loves to return to Pakistan, again, and again, and yet again!
And finally, we are balanced on the edge of a very sensitive precipice – granted that Alex’s presentation did not get a hearing at the summit, yet her words cannot be ignored. Pakistani Tourism personnel would do well to heed her advice, and take it with a pinch of salt.
This article is the collaboration effort of several members of Team FUCHSIA.