‘We need to create passion among the people regarding tourism & its potential’

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‘We need to create passion among the people regarding tourism & its potential’


Seasoned travel writer Salman Rashid recalls his journeys and expeditions

People who are fond of traveling and exploring different places, cultures and history of Pakistan are very familiar with the name of Salman Rashid. He is considered as the best of the best when it comes to travel writing. Due to his unique and attractive narrating style, his work is widely appreciated among readers and his explorations, expeditions and travel writings regularly appear in the top publications of the country. Many foreigners have visited Pakistan after reading his travel blogs.

Salman Rashid is an eminent travel writer and a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. He has authored 13 books about his various travel experiences and expeditions. In his writing he emphasizes on providing true facts and figures about the history of a place and a particular culture. The best example of this claim is that he has accurately detected and diarized the presence of Alexander the Great in the subcontinent by providing appropriate and exact details and has negated the false speculations that are widely accepted in major historical literature in this regard. He believes that the true spirit of travel writing lies in the fact that the travel writer before writing about any place, personality or culture, should gain complete and accurate knowledge about its history first.

Bol News spoke exclusively to the eminent travel writer and asked various questions regarding his travel expeditions and experiences.


You are a seasoned traveller and an accomplished author. What drew you towards traveling and writing?



I have been fond of traveling since childhood. Even as a child I was very fond of maps and I used to study maps, and this habit generated a passion in me to explore new things and places. I was born to be a traveller. As far as writing goes, I can say that I naturally possessed the art and attribute of storytelling.


What are some of the travelogues that have inspired you?


The first book that really inspired me to start writing was ‘To the Frontier’ by Geoffrey Moorhouse. However, later on other books also proved to be the beacon of inspiration for me on the path of becoming a writer. Books like ‘The Road to Oxiana’ by Robert Byron, a book by Peter Fleming ‘News from Tartary’ and ‘The Great Railway Bazar’ by Paul Theroux and another book by Geoffrey Moorhouse named ‘Apples in the Snow’ enlightened my wisdom towards writing. The aforementioned books have been the guiding light for me in starting my journey in writing.



Of all your travels in Pakistan and abroad, what are the locations that have stayed in your memory the most?


Every single location and place I have been to in Pakistan [has] stayed in my memory for good. Those places have become [an] integral part of me. I am drawn to places not because they are scenic or they are summer getaway. I have always been drawn to places because of their historical, geographical or botanical reasons, and not for amusement purposes.

I go and visit various places because of their historic and geographical significances. The sole purpose for my traveling is to educate myself about the different cultures, norms, values and history of various people living in different parts. While talking about foreign trips, I would say cities in Switzerland such as Lausanne, Lucerne and Zurich are the only three cities where I would love to visit again.



We hear a lot about Pakistan’s tourism potential? Do you think any serious steps have been taken at the govt level in the said regard?


No serious steps have been taken to promote Pakistan’s tourism around the globe. In fact, the step that has been taken could be counterproductive for tourism. In my opinion, no tourist can afford to stay under constant surveillance and checking procedures at regular intervals. Such practices can downslide the tourism graph.


Do you think we should try and attract foreigners to the country or focus only on domestic tourism?



I think both should be promoted. Domestic tourism has increased over the course of time. But this tourism is only focused on the concept of obtaining a getaway from the summer heat, and is not undertaken with the spirit of exploration or expeditions through which a traveller tends to learn a lot. Unfortunately, people of Pakistan do not carry the passion to explore their homeland, otherwise people would go to Sindh in winter. But they only take tourism as a getaway from plains during summer by visiting the northern areas. This is the reason why the masses generally do not make efforts to know about the history of different places in the country that is why they lack the required curiosity of exploration.

As far as tourism for foreigners goes, I would say there is no limit to it as Pakistan offers limitless tourism opportunities for foreigners which can prove very beneficial not only for our economy but it will also help in portraying a soft and real image of Pakistan to the world. This interaction with foreigners through tourism will expose our people to new ideas and skills.


While tourism is beneficial to the economy it can have negative effects on the environment and heritage sites, particularly if it is not well managed. How do you promote sustainable tourism?


As you can see these days places like Naran, Kaghan and other tourist spots are not offering sustainable tourism mainly because of the lack of government involvement and there is no one to regulate the proceedings there. Someone should have stepped in and taken up the responsibility but unfortunately this was not done. We are in reactive mode for last 70 years, and there is an urgent need to become proactive regarding our tourism. It is a pity to see that none of our state institutions pay any attention towards promoting and providing sustainable tourism.


The government does not show any serious concern in promoting tourism and it is unaware of the fact that how much revenue Pakistan can generate through tourism. We need to create awareness and passion among the people regarding the concept of tourism and its potential, and we must create interest in them about exploring new places. I have travelled hundreds of miles during my quest of exploration and expeditions.


Photo: Bol News



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