Where to go in 2018: alternative travel destination Pakistan: Financial Times


London:  FT.com: For much of the past decade, Pakistan has been synonymous in many people's minds with terrorism and unrest - the place Osama bin Laden was killed, where Malala Yousafzai was shot, and where climbers preparing to scale an 8,000m peak were murdered in their tents. And yet in the past three years, an improvement in the security situation has prompted the beginnings of an unlikely tourism surge.

“While I am sure this will raise some eyebrows, we are starting to see a marked increase in tourism to Pakistan,” says Jonny Bealby of Wild Frontiers. His company took 55 per cent more clients to the country in 2017 compared with the previous year, and advance bookings are more than 100 per cent up on this point 12 months ago.

In 2015 the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office relaxed warnings about visiting large areas of the mountainous north; figures from the state-owned Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation suggest total arrivals have tripled since then, to a total of 1.75m in 2017.

A publicity drive - including covering London buses with photographs of Pakistani scenes - as well as celebrations in 2017 marking the 70th anniversary of the country's formation, have helped raise the nation's profile. Roads have been improved, including the resurfacing of large stretches of the fabled Karakoram Highway, and domestic airline connections increased.

“Of course, I realise the country still has a long way to go before it can attract the numbers of adventure tourists that came here pre-9/11, but there is no doubt things are on the up,” says Bealby.

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January , 2018

Last updated: January , 2018

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