Equal representation of local travel travel influencers in tourism related policy making
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The Honorable Prime Minister of Pakistan
Mr. Imran Khan
We are writing to you on behalf of the social media influencers and content creators of Pakistan to bring in your notice the blatant injustice that was committed by the organizers of the Pakistan Tourism Summit held at Convention Center Islamabad and where you spoke as Keynote Speaker.
Sir, it has been quite some time now that the social media scene in Pakistan is rife with young boys and girls, men and women who are driven by an urge to become strong proponents and supporters of the government in promoting tourism and tourist destinations across the country. These young social media influencers and content creators have been relentlessly working to put Pakistan on the international tourism map and have been supporting institutions like Tourism Corporation of Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa, Tourism Development Corporation of Punjab by providing them digital content free of cost.
Sir, unlike the physical world, the social media does not have borders and if people like something on the internet, chances are they will want to buy it or be there or become a part of it. The point being that content generated within the country by Pakistanis themselves can be as powerful in promoting tourism as any foreign traveler visiting Pakistan. We, as influencers and content producers across social media platforms, had high hopes from the Pakistan Tourism Summit. Not only was it an opportunity for the government and its institutions to promotes its policies like the recent e-visa initiative and the keen interest in tourism, but also to provide a platform to bring together industry experts, government officials and foreign and local travelers and influencers.
It was a disappointment though that only foreign travel influencers and content creators were invited as speakers. Not to say that we don’t appreciate their hard work in getting the word out on Pakistan to the outside world, but that a mix of local and foreign influencers would have done the job much better. Even the speakers who were invited acknowledge the fact that they couldn’t have made all the content without the help and support of local creatives and travel enthusiasts. Local photographers, cinematographers and content creators have contributed to the work of the foreign influencers/content creators. Not only this but it is the local community who have swiftly acted and corrected foreign influencers if their content about Pakistan came from an orientalist point of view or in any way was culturally insensitive or validated stereotypes about the country and its inhabitants.
Sir, the sidelining of local influencers and giving the stage entirely to foreign tourists, few of whom have barely spent time in the country and have very little know-how of the culture and heritage of Pakistan, reflects the colonial mindset of our institutions. It reflects upon the fact that we as a nation have not moved past the era of looking up to outsiders and seeking their validation. Sir, the problem needs to be pondered upon and a policy in this regard is needed.
Also, Sir, how can we expect to attract huge tourist numbers to the country without empowering and engaging with the local people working extremely hard despite financial and work/study constraints? It is a fact that the government cannot create raw and genuine hype on social media platforms regarding summits like Pakistan Tourism Summit and tourism in Pakistan without the support of the local content creators. Sir, local content creators have been promoting the tourism industry for years now. And such acts by the government only disheartens them.
After putting our concern up, we have come up with a solution of our own - a platform created by us for you all that goes by the name of “Let’s Discover Pakistan” (LDP). With the proper use of technology, social media, personal connections and initiatives we shall be promoting and showcasing the works of local artists, artisans and content creators that has been exploited by many for a long time now, with the creators getting nothing out of it.
We aim to turn LDP into a healthy and vibrant community of equally brilliant people that will redefine how people look at Pakistan and the art that runs through it veins from the tall mountains in the North to the warm seas in the South. And while we are at it, we want the creators to benefit from it too.
Sir, Our request to you is to direct not just the Federal Government but also your governments in other provinces, particularly their tourism ministries and departments, not to ignore the efforts of the local influencers in the future and give them their due recognition and acknowledge their efforts. Nothing can convince foreigners to come to Pakistan than a big community of emerging local travelers, who are willing to run an extra mile to ensure their stay here is a memorable one by lending them a helping hand, collaborating with them, guiding them and making them feel at home, away from home.
Team Lets Discover Pakistan.
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