Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has plans to start construction of a planetarium and an aviation gallery near the heritage site of Moen jo Daro by the end of October or early November.
PIA spokesperson Anisa Rehman said that the aim was to promote tourism. “The government has allotted the land free of charge to PIA,” she said.
Moen jo Daro already has a museum on its premises. It is a popular tourist and picnic spot for people all over the country, especially rural Sindh and abroad. “However, due to the law and order problem in the country, people from abroad and other cities have stopped going there,” she said. “Therefore PIA decided to promote the destination.”
The airline says daily flights to Moen jo Daro are already in place and the airline’s promotion drive would make this domestic route profitable.
PIA has three planetariums, including one each in Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar. The one in Peshawar is not reportedly in working condition.
According to a handout issued by PIA, its deputy managing director, Salim Sayani, had made the announcement at a conference this week in Karachi on the “Pakistan Aviation and Travel Industry: Synergy and Growth”. Sayani gave an elaborate presentation on rebranding Pakistan through innovation in the travel industry.
He discussed the annual arrival of passengers (share of countries in percentage terms) within the region. India has a 48% share in the regional tourism industry whereas Pakistan has 4%, Sri Lanka 7%, Bangladesh 4%, Maldives 8% and Iran 24%.
There was a time when Pakistan ranked among the top 25 tourist destinations in the world.
However since 9/11, the ranking has continued to decline for the last 10 years. Also affecting us have been the natural disasters such as the earthquake and the floods of 2010 and the security situation. Pakistan is the sixth largest country in the world by population but its tourists number less than 100,000.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 17th, 2011.