ISLAMABAD: Tajikistan wants to sign an agreement with Pakistan on bilateral cooperation in tourism with incentives for tourists and companies to give a big push to the sector.
Speaking at a seminar on “Tajikistan – The Land of Opportunities for Tourism Industry of Pakistan”, Tajikistan Ambassador Sherali Jononov said the two countries were exploring opportunities for cooperation in energy, education, culture and defence sectors. But tourism was a missing subject that should be explored.
“Tourism is a big industry in the world and some countries in the European Union, Asia and the Gulf are depending on it,” he pointed out, adding the industry contributed to the gross domestic product of some countries and generated revenue for the federal budget.
Jononov said the question “is how we can strengthen people-to-people contact with Pakistan that is the hub of tourists between south and central Asian states.”
The president of Tajikistan had announced a strategy to develop the tourism industry, he revealed, adding Tajikistan would host a meeting of the working group on tourism in July in Dushanbe where leading tourist companies of Pakistan would be present to find ways to promote bilateral relations.
“Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority was approached by Tajik Air to resume direct flights between the two countries, but no response has been received yet,” he disclosed.
Speaking on the occasion, Tajikistan’s Committee on Tourism Development Deputy Chairman Shirin Amonzoda said Tajikistan President Emomali Rahmon had declared 2018 as the year of tourism development.
She said Tajikistan’s president had also announced a number of incentives for tourists and the industry which included exemption from tax on profit for first five years, exemption from value added tax and customs duty and 50% reduction in customs duty on new cars for tourists and tourist companies.
Pakistan and Tajikistan had signed an agreement in 2004 on tourism, which was enforced in 2008, she recalled and added that Tajikistan wanted more tourists from Pakistan and desired to sign a new agreement keeping in view the fresh incentives.
She said only 110 tourists from Pakistan visited Tajikistan in the first three months of 2018.
A delegation from Pakistan will visit Tajikistan soon to explore opportunities for the tourism industry.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 1st, 2018.