COVID-19 Response

Equipping communities for tourism in a post-COVID world
July 2020

Our new reality requires a new way of doing things.

Project objectives
  • Increase knowledge and awareness of COVID-19 risk management initiatives through trainings for participants across Gilgit-Baltistan and local ambassadors for long-term impact
  • Increase compliance of COVID-19 SOPs through delivery of COVID-19 starter kits
  • Assess community needs and barriers to growth in tourism for future capacity building and growth initiatives
  • Provide immediate economic relief to impacted professionals through training attendance honorariums

Restarting tourism in Pakistan is necessary for economic recovery, but precautions must be taken to ensure it is not at the expense of local communities’ health and safety.

Due to Gilgit-Baltistan’s popularity with tourists, a revival of domestic tourism puts communities in the region at a particularly high risk of COVID-related concerns. Lack of infrastructure and adequate resources to mitigate risk and safely manage increased tourist flows in the COVID-era pose safety concerns for both local communities and travelers.

Our pilot project aims to provide assistance and relief to vulnerable tourism professionals in Gilgit-Baltistan through SOP (Standard Operating Procedures) training and COVID-19 safety kit distribution.

Main activities

Tourism training

Execute tourism-specific COVID-19 SOP training and develop localized COVID-19 SOP resources for the following beneficiaries:

  • Hotels and guest houses
  • Tour guides and porters
  • Local ambassadors
All participants will be paid for their time to provide immediate economic relief.

COVID kit distribution

Encourage SOP implementation by providing COVID-19 starter kits to beneficiaries with essential health and safety items including but not limited to:

  • Infrared thermometers
  • Surface disinfectants
  • Reusable masks from local female artisans
  • Hand sanitizers
  • Antibacterial soaps
  • Face shields
  • Informative posters

Traveler education

Educate tourists and stakeholders about safe and responsible travel through a public awareness campaign. Videos and infographics will provide actionable suggestions for the following groups:

  • Travelers
  • Hotels and guest houses
  • Tour guides and porters
  • Local ambassadors

880,000 jobs in Pakistan are at risk because of the COVID-19 crisis.

The effect of COVID-19 on Pakistan's tourism sector

In recent decades, Pakistan’s only international headlines were due to unrest in the region. The instability destroyed the tourism industry of a country once beloved by foreign tourists.

However, over the last few years Pakistan’s government focused on improving the country’s international image to revive its tourism industry. Pakistan finally started making headlines in Conde Nast, Forbes, and more as one of the top travel destinations of 2020.

2020 seemed promising Pakistan’s tourism industry, but COVID-19 brought all tourism activities to a sudden halt; a harsh blow to the financial sustainability of the country’s already unstable tourism industry.

According to a report published by Pakistan’s National Tourism Coordination Board (NTCB), the tourism industry faced the following setbacks in 2020:

  • Pakistan’s hotel industry lost over PKR 100 million in the month of February. Bookings declined from 95% to 40% by March 2020.
  • Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) reported losses of USD 18 million in March 2020.
  • Pakistan Association of Tour Operators reported 100% cancellation of bookings for spring, an estimated USD 10 million of lost revenue.
  • At least 1.5 million jobs in tourism and hospitality are at immediate risk.
  • A 90% reduction of foreign tourist arrivals is expected in 2020.

Tourism activities should respect the equality of men and women; they should promote human rights and, more particularly, the individual rights of the most vulnerable groups, notably children, the elderly, persons with disabilities, ethnic minorities and indigenous peoples.

UNWTO Framework Convention on Tourism Ethics

COVID-19 is expected to cause USD 3.64 billion of losses to Pakistan's GDP.

Source: World Bank

When we talk of designing sustainability into tourism recovery programs, we must acknowledge that sustainability cannot be achieved until all vulnerable groups are embraced fully into the new design.​

UN World Tourism Organization

Fundraising objectives

While our aim is to ultimately offer tourism training and kits in two different districts of Gilgit-Baltistan, our reach is dependent on funds raised. We prioritize quality over quantity; thorough training and follow up in one district is preferable to vast but insufficient coverage.

USD 15,000 will allow us to cover two different districts of Gilgit-Baltistan highly frequented by tourists: Hunza and Gilgit.

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