Dying Tourism in Pakistan Affects Workers
The workers of Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation staged a protest demonstration in front of their head office in Islamabad against the corruption (Photo: Malik Ayub Sumbal)
Thousands of workers of the Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation went on strike throughout the country recently.
They are demanding that their salaries are paid... some of them haven’t been paid for over a year now.
Around 300 workers of this government body stood in front of their head office in Islamabad. They’re holding placards and chanting slogans, accusing the government of being corrupt.
They demanded their salaries to be paid... some haven’t been paid for over a year.
Majid Yaqoob is one of them .... he’s the President of the employee union.
“We will fight for our rights and for the sake of the protection of the rights of the employees until our last breath,” Majid says.
“We have not received our salaries for the last one year but the corruption by the managing director here is still going on. We can’t bear this injustice in the department anymore.”
Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation is a government body that provides transportation to various areas and owns several motels across the country for tourists.
The Union accuses high-level management of being corrupt and has filed a case to the National Accountability Bureau.
But the management claims there were financial problems in the organisation and had asked for financial help from the government.
Since the 2011 attack against the United States, the tourism industry in Pakistan has been getting worse. One of the areas that suffer the most is the Swat Valley... that fell in the hands of the Taliban in 2008.
The clash between Pakistan Army and the Taliban had destroyed many tourist spots... including Malam Jabba, the government-owned largest ski resort.
Usman Khan is the Chairman of the Federal Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management.
“When the war check in to any country, the tourists check out from that region. In Pakistan, the tourism declined due to the negative images of Pakistan by the locals and international media.”
The World Economic Forum still ranks Pakistan as one of the least friendly countries for foreigners.
30-year-old tourist guide Asma Khan says that Pakistan Tourism Department should do more to bring back tourists.
“Pakistan faced a worst decline after the 9-11 but there are also faults of the Pakistani high-level officials. They totally fail to promote the tourism in Pakistan especially the Pakistan Tourism Department which have enjoyed a huge revenue generated from the foreign tourists in the past.”
And among the victims are employees of the Pakistan Tourism Department.
29-year-old Tahira Khan, an activist from the opposition Tehrik-e-Insaf party says the government must take care of the alleged corruption case first in order to develop tourism.
“There are challenges and corruption allegations to the Pakistan tourism body but we have to save God’s gifted assets. The northern areas of Pakistan are full of beauty and culturally rich that fascinates international tourists. We should wipe out corrupt officers from the tourism body and make them accountable and give the salaries to the staff.”
At the protest site... the Union general secretary Waqar Ahmed says they promise to continue the strike if the newly-elected government doesn’t anything.
“It’s really hard for me to meet both ends under this situation. We failed to feed our families because we didn’t get paid for the last one year. Is this justice? It’s a mockery to the poor people and we will not silent on this issue.”