Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan on Thursday suggested that the top YouTubers of the country should be engaged to promote tourism instead of inviting vloggers from abroad to tell the world what Pakistan has to offer.
The state minister said that the YouTubers were already promoting the country as well as earning handsome amount from YouTube – the online video-sharing platform – and they should be utilised for the promotion of tourism in the country and abroad.
Becoming a vlogger has lately been the most-desired job among youth and others as more YouTube channels continue to generate high incomes due to a massive number of views.
The highest-paid YouTube stars of 2020 from around the world have earned millions of dollars unlike the traditional media, which suffered due to a pandemic-induced downturn.
“They [YouTubers] should be encouraged. They should be called in the committees. We should give them ownership, take them in loop, organise bonfire-kind of events among other things in Nathia Gali, Swat, Hunza,” Khan suggested, adding that “these kids have passion and they are not like 9-to-5 kind of people.”
The minister suggested that the top 30 to 35 YouTubers, who have huge following, should be engaged.
Khan shared his views in the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Cabinet Secretariat where budgetary proposals relating to Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) of Cabinet and Establishment Divisions were discussed.
The proposal to involve YouTubers came after the Cabinet Division sought the committee’s approval for several projects pertaining to promotion and facilitation of tourism in Pakistan.
Read more: Tourism attracts hefty investment
Meanwhile, the minister shocked the audience when he said that the government institutions were meant for providing services and not jobs to people, saying time has come to find other things to satisfy the constituents.
“We were compelled to take some unpopular decisions,” he said. “It’s time for smart governance.”
The Cabinet Division’s proposals for PSDP 2021-22 regarding tourism projects included Facilitation of Tourism Marketing and Promotion and PC-I for the construction of Aiwan-e-Sayyahat [Tourism Complex] at Sector F-5. The total cost for both the projects, respectively, is Rs161.02 million and Rs1,600 million.
The officials of the Cabinet Division informed the chairperson of the committee, Kishwar Zehra, and a handful of lawmakers who took more than an hour to complete quorum, that the objective of the first project was to enhance soft image of Pakistan, explore new tourism markets, learn and review new tourism trends in global markets, increase awareness and enhance capacity building of tourism sector.
On Aiwan-e-Sayyahat project, the officials said that the establishment of the Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) headquarter in Islamabad was directly related with the promotion and development of tourism and projection of Pakistan in the comity of nations.
The aim of construction of PTDC headquarter is to create a "Tourism Center of Gravity" from where all initiatives in tourism and facilitation to tourists, both foreign and domestic, will emanate.
Furthermore, the officials said, easy access to the tourist-related facilities under one roof shall increase coordination and enhance productivity of the National Tourism Coordination Board (NTCB), adding that the project will extend support to economic development through employment generation.
They revealed that roughly 1,500 PTDC employees were sacked and most of the litigation went in favour of the division and only 41 officials would now be managing the affairs.
“For a two-room office in Bahawalpur, 19 Naib Qasids were hired,” revealed one of the officials while explaining the cost the national exchequer had to bear for making seasonal workers as permanent employees.
Things were looking good on paper and during discussion before PTI’s MNA Ali Nawaz Awan enquired from the officials where they practically stood in terms of acquiring land and bringing things in materialistic form.
The officials said that logos, slogans and survey was complete but they could not share with the committee without the approval from their MD – whose post is vacant for the past couple of months.
“You are about to waste Rs12 crores,” Awan regretted while urging the officials to complete the paperwork and bring it before the committee and the officials concerned so that approval could be obtained before the funds lapsed.
“Discussions won’t serve any purpose; I won’t be able to show anything that was built in the past two-and-a-half year in Islamabad,” he said.
The officials promised to share details in the next meeting as one of them regrettably admitted that “yes these documents are not nuclear policies or assets that could not be shared with the committee.”
Among other projects of Establishment Division, the committee approved construction of 28 new attached washrooms in the Civil Services Academy’s Walton Campus in Lahore. The estimated cost of the project is Rs12 million.