Pakistan is known as a tourist paradise and is a
special interest destination. Its main attractions include adventure
tourism in the Northern Areas, cultural and archaeological tourism as
found in Taxila, Monenjodaro, Harrapa and early Muslims and Mughal
heritage at Multan, Lahore, Thatta, Peshawar, Swat. Besides this, birds
watching, desert safaris, trekking and mountaineering are readily
available tourist specialized products.
What is missing or not developed is tourism in the
countryside. There are many terms for this type of tourism such as rural
tourism, agricultural tourism, ecotourism, green tourism and
Rural tourism has much to offer to the world, rich in
traditions of arts, crafts and culture. Rural Pakistan can emerge as
important tourist spots. Those in developed world who have a craze for
knowledge about traditional ways of life, arts and crafts will be
attracted to visit rural Pakistan if the concept of rural tourism is
WHY PAKISTANI FARMERS NEED RURAL TOURISM
It will be a new source of income for Pakistani
farmers. The income gap between farmers and urban workers has become a
major problem in Pakistan. The situation is likely to get worse over the
next few years, now that the Uruguay Round is being implemented and
Pakistani market is being opened to cheap agricultural produce from
abroad. To maintain their present standard of living, farmers will have
to find new ways of earning money. In favourable areas, agricultural
tourism can become an important source of farm income.
When small-scale farmers first become involved in the
tourist industry, they often need some outside support. They may require
credit and outside expertise to keep them improve their facilities to
meet the standards of urban or foreign visitors. They may need new
skills of management and service, so that their visitors will be pleased
with their stay and want to come back. They may also require outside
help in advertising and publicity, to attract tourists from distant
cities and abroad.
PATTERNS OF RURAL TOURISM
The way in which rural tourism is organized and the
forms it takes vary from country to country. Farm tourism, almost by
definition, means different things in different countries. In Finland,
for instance, it usually denotes rented cottages and catering services
in the country. In Hungary, it is about low-priced accommodation in
villages. In Slovenia, it implies tourism on family farms, with guests
living with the farmer's family or in a guesthouse and visiting the farm
for meals and tours, while in the Netherlands, it translates into
camping, cycling and horse riding. In Greece, on the other hand, rural
tourism is about boarding in traditionally done up rooms and
breakfasting on home made products.
In some countries, the government or cooperative
movement is the main source of investment. In others it is private
In Indonesia rural tourism has been developed mainly
in plantation areas of Sumatra and Java. Visitors stay in hotels, but
visit farms to see activities such as rice planting or rubber tapping.
In Japan, the most common type of farm tourism is the farm inn, which
offers accommodation and usually meals. Korea offers tourism farms,
developed by a group of more than five farm households, and home-stay
villages near tourist resort areas. In Malaysia, the government has
provided most of the funding for more than 30 agro tourisms centers.
These are intended for education as well as recreation. Sometimes rare
plants or animals species are the main attraction, sometimes traditional
foods, handicrafts or historic buildings.
A European example of well-developed rural tourism is
France. Camping and Caravans are the most popular form of accommodation
in rural areas, many of them on farms. Many farmers have developed
camping sites on their farms. Others farmers prefer to invest in various
kinds of short-term rental houses.
Pakistani farmers are unlikely to match up to these
standards, as the agricultural farms are not developed in that respect.
Some experts, however, disagree that foreign farm
visitors have to be treated with kid gloves. In India a farmer own an
eight-acre farm, says, we have about 500 foreigners visiting our organic
farms each year. We conserve nature and have a large collection of seeds
and medicinal herbs and rare plant species.
SOUND PLANNING PROCEDURES ARE VITAL
The value of ecotourism market in developing
countries is estimated to be in the range of $5 to 10 billion annually.
The number of eco tourists is growing by about 20 per cent per annum and
is currently estimated to account for about 7 per cent of all
international travel expenditures.
A study commissioned by Federation of Indian Chambers
of Commerce and industry concludes that farm and rural tourism, if
developed along unique indigenous lines, could have multipliers effect
and high revenue capital ratio. In layman's terms that means more jobs
Every 10.00,000 additional visitors, it says, can
translate into Rs. 4,300 crore in revenue. The investment at each
additional Rs. 10,00,000 can create 47.5 jobs. And each direct job can
create 11 indirect jobs.
The Indian government has identified 31 villages
across the country as tourist spots. This does not mean that India has
only 31 potential tourist spots in rural areas. There are many more.
These spots have been selected on pilot basis keeping in view available
infrastructures. There are many others spots of potential tourist
interest where adequate infrastructure needs to be developed.
Good planning is vital if rural tourism is really
going to benefit rural communities. To city dwellers, the countryside
may seem a peaceful heaven. For rural people, tourism may cause conflict
and distress, there are too many visitors causing too much noise and
traffic. Local services such as rubbish collection and sewage may not be
able to cope. Poorly planned development can spoil community life and
ruin the landscape. Good planning not only minimizes the destructive
impact of tourism it is useful in other ways. It helps farmers assess
the tourism potential of their farms and their local area, and develop
this potential in a coordinated way.
PROBLEMS IN RURAL TOURISM
(A) LACK OF MANAGEMENT SKILLS
There is the lack of management skills among farmers
involved in tourism projects.
Lack of skills is also problem among the local
government staff responsible for planning and regulation of tourism.
Most have little knowledge or experience of tourism development. This
makes it difficult for them to select suitable projects for development
or assess the impact of these projects on rural areas.
Most rural tourism facilities tend to be small and
widely scattered. This makes it difficult to market them to potential
visitors, and makes it almost impossible for them to cater for the mass
Many rural areas of outstanding natural beauty have a
poor road or rail network, and are difficult to reach. Roads are poor so
that travel is slow. City dwellers are unwilling to spend their precious
free time visiting the countryside if it takes too long to get there.
(D) LIMITED TOURISM SEASON
Rural areas receive most of their tourists during the
height of season. This limits the number of days in which tourist
accommodation and other facilities are used and the return on
(E) RETURN ON INVESTMENT
Returns on capital invested in rural tourism tend to
be low. They are nearly always lower than the return from other kinds of
commercial enterprises. In general, small-scale farmers are well advised
not to invest too heavily in new buildings or expensive facilities. It
is difficult for them to make a profit if they are burdened by heavy
interest payments. Cheap credit and other financial help from government
can make a big difference in the profitability of a tourism farm.
A study by Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce
and industry suggests that the sector can get a boost, if all aspects of
eco tourism are developed. This study has estimated that there is a
subset within eco and rural tourism that is profitable on a stand- alone
basis and is amenable to commercial financing.
successful rural tourism is the product of good planning and good
Tourists farms are much more likely to succeed if
they are near tourist attractions such as national parks or good
beaches. Good roads are also important.
Large-scale development, if it is well designed, can
attract more tourists, and have a spillover affect in generating income
for farmers over a wide area. Farmers beginning a tourist enterprise can
benefit very much from outside support. They need information and
guidance in deciding whether their farms are suitable for tourists, what
facilities they can offer and what return they can expect. Once the
decision to develop is taken, they need training in management and
hospitality, and sometimes they also need credit. Finally, they need to
be part of some system of marketing and advertisement, and benefit
greatly from some system of feedback and customer response. A national
system of accreditation or licensing is also an advantage.
Whether investment is primarily from the government
or commercial sources, the rate of return from rural tourism is usually
low compared to other kind of commercial investment. This means that
either credit should be supplied on favourable terms, or farmers must
have strong reasons other than economic ones for investing in farm
tourism. In fact, wider social contacts and making new friends sometimes
seem to be as strong motivation as the economic return on investment.
Farmers are most likely to benefit from tourism if
they can directly provide tourists with services and products, whether
these are accommodation, food, local specialties or combination of the
three. While the economic impact of rural tourism is not simple to
evaluate, its development is most likely to benefit farmers if it is
small scale, dispersed and supplier-oriented rather than
Tourism Development Corporation is responsible for identification and
implementation of tourist projects. It is suggested that corporation
should initiate studies on rural tourism. The pilot projects should be
identified and implemented. Data regarding the investment analysis may
be generated for further planning. This sector may be developed for
creating employment and reduction of poverty in Pakistan.