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 outcomes
  • 191 professionals in 12 tourism hotspots across Gilgit-Baltistan trained in tourism-specific COVID-19 risk management
  • 560,000 PKR  of economic support provided to training participants
  • 112 COVID-19 safety kits provided to training participants
  • 79% of participants reported increased knowledge of COVID-19 health risks
  • 89% of participants said they’re more likely to implement COVID-19 SOPs in their work

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

Thanks to our project partners
Aga Khan Rural Support Programme logo
Gilgit-Baltistan Association of Tour Operators logo

See it yourself.

Main activities

Tourism training

Executed tourism-specific COVID-19 SOP training and developed localized COVID-19 SOP resources for the following beneficiaries:

  • Hotels and guest houses
  • Tour guides
  • Local ambassadors
All participants were paid a total of 560,000 PKR for their time to provide immediate economic relief from COVID-19 disruptions.

COVID kit distribution

Encouraged SOP implementation by providing 112 COVID-19 starter kits to beneficiaries with essential health and safety items including but not limited to:

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

Traveler education

Educated tourists and stakeholders about safe and responsible travel through public awareness campaigns on Instagram and Facebook. Videos made by local filmmakers about risks to their community provided actionable suggestions and requests to travelers visiting Gilgit-Baltistan.

All the videos are available on our YouTube channel.

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

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