Tourism to Improve Mutual Understandings Between People of Vietnam and Pakistan

“When referring to people-to-people relations, there are many sectors that we can work in. First is tourism. Tourism gives big knowledge to each people about the other. Pakistan is a country full of different kinds of tourism. The best thing for Vietnam that Pakistan can offer is its Buddhism heritage. I am hopeful that with the current trajectory of relationship, people-to-people contact will enhance significantly in near future,” said HE Samina Mehtab, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Pakistan to Vietnam.

0
526
Tourism to Improve Mutual Understandings Between People of Vietnam and Pakistan
Samina Mehtab, Ambassador of Pakistan to Vietnam.

According to the Ambassador,

Pakistan and Vietnam currently enjoy a very cordial relationship, that has progressively strengthened in past 50 years. The two countries have actively collaborated with each other in all spheres of interaction such as political, economic and people-to-people contact.

I believe that people-to-people contact is the backbone of any bilateral relationship. As an Ambassador, I have been striving to enhance people-to-people exchange by promoting trade, investment, tourism, cultural, educational, and parliamentary linkages. Pakistan offers an E-Visa facility for Vietnamese nationals and the visa process is very quick and convenient. We also try to spread awareness about the opportunities Pakistan has to offer for Vietnamese people from all walks of life. The Embassy goes to all extents to facilitate Vietnamese businessmen and tourists. As a result of our efforts, the number of Vietnamese going to Pakistan is already on a steady hike.

What solutions should the two countries focus on to promote tourism?

Pakistan, due to its matchless blessings and rich cultural heritage, is a center of all sorts of tourism, may it be an adventure, cultural, historical, or religious tourism. Pakistan is home to the world’s most stunning mountain ranges in the world; the country is rife with beautiful valleys and deserts along with several ancient civilizational sites. Pakistan hosts six UNESCO sites across the country, including the famous Lahore Fort. Besides this, religious tourism can also be an area of great potential between Pakistan and Vietnam. Buddhist heritage sites in Taxila, Peshawar, and Swat can be of huge interest to Vietnamese tourists.

Pakistan has improved its standing by six ranks in the International Travel and Tourism Development Index by the World Economic Forum (WEF) released this year. The international travel and tourism competitive index titled “Rebuilding for a Sustainable and Resilient Future,” ranked Pakistan in 83rd position, which was up from 89th place in the index’s previous edition of 2019. Therefore, I would invite all my Vietnamese friends to explore the beauty of Pakistan and I promise them a wonderful experience in Pakistan.

To support the development of tourism cooperation between the two countries, first, we are working to have direct flights between the two countries. Second, I have met tourist operators from big cities and we have your tourism administration and ministry on board. Next month we are going to send them to Pakistan. The embassy can only connect people, the businessmen will see opportunities to connect themselves.

I have held several meetings with the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, various departments of tourism, and tour operators all over Vietnam. I also conducted a webinar on tourism in June. The Embassy in collaboration with the Pakistan Tourism Development Cooperation and Trade Development Authority of Pakistan proactively participated in the International Travel Expo in Ho Chi Minh in September and the response of the audience was overwhelming for us. We are also planning a trip by the tour operators from Vietnam to Pakistan next month. For collaboration in the information technology sector, I am in active engagement with VINASA and we will soon be conducting a webinar with VINASA to further explore the possibilities of cooperation.

Tourism to Improve Mutual Understandings Between People of Vietnam and Pakistan
Lahore Fort – a UNESCO-recognized cultural heritage in Pakistan.

In your expectation, how can people-to-people exchange benefits from tourism?

When referring to people-to-people relations, there are many sectors that we can work in. First is tourism. Tourism gives big knowledge to each people about the other. Pakistan is a country full of different kinds of tourism. The best thing for Vietnam that Pakistan can offer is its Buddhism heritage.

When I started my term in Vietnam in 2021, I met Venerable Thich Duc Thien, Vice Chairman and General Secretary of the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha’s Executive Council, and gave him a presentation on Buddhist heritage in Pakistan. Interestingly, he knew has vested Pakistan and had seen those heritages. I am meeting with him again to promote Buddhist tourism for Vietnamese.

When Vietnamese think of Pakistan, they think of a Muslim country, but if we look back at history, Pakistan is a Buddhist country and the cradle of Buddhist learning. Our city Texila has a university that has trained many Buddhists. During ancient times, people would come from all over Asia to Pakistan to learn about Buddhism and bring those lectures back to their countries. Vietnamese people should come to Pakistan and explore those. I am also trying to introduce the heritage of Pakistan to the Vietnamese, especially the young generation.

Recently, many young couples in Pakistan plan their honeymoon abroad. I think they should also think of Vietnam. The young Vietnamese should also come to visit Pakistan. Many tourists from Vietnam have been to Pakistan and many women of Vietnam are married to Pakistani husbands. Those are special people-to-people contacts. People should come and meet each other, from that they can build a friendship or a family.

What are the similarities between the people of Vietnam and Pakistan that can act as a bridge for them to connect and develop together?

First, our two countries both have big populations. Vietnamese and Pakistani people are family-oriented. I have been to big cities like Ho Chi Minh City and have seen multi-generational families going out together, from the grandparents, and the young couples to their kids. Family closeness, not abandoning the elderly ensures a sustainable family structure in Vietnam. This is similar in Pakistan, as we are both Asian countries.

Second, Vietnamese people are hospitable and friendly. I can see that Vietnamese people are always smiling. You are optimistic and friendly with everyone. This is reflected in your daily life and foreign policy and attracts foreigners to come to Vietnam for tourism and investment, which is the foundation for Vietnam to develop tourism, to attract tourists and investors.

Third, Vietnam is a safe and secure country. This is also an important basis for tourism and economic development.

I am hopeful that with all these concerted efforts, there will be a more frequent people-to-people exchange between the two countries.

Thank you very much, Ambassador!

VNT writers