*Session on Advancing Tourism for Development and Poverty Alleviation*
Islamabad: On the second day of the 2nd General Conference of Parliamentary Assembly of Economic Cooperation Organization (PAECO), a special session on ‘Advancing Tourism for Development and Poverty Alleviation in ECO States’ was jointly organized by the National Assembly of Pakistan and the Pakistan Institute for Parliamentary Services (PIPS). Senator Dr. Sania Nishtar, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Poverty Alleviation, presided the inaugural session and presented the key note speech. She welcomed the national parliamentary delegates from Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey and Uzbekistan attended in person while Hon. MPs from Iran and Turkmenistan, who participated virtually in the absorbing two hours deliberations.
Senator Dr Sania Nishter highlighted that tourism is a key driver of sustainable development and poverty alleviation of the local communities. She further stressed that the ECO region has enormous potential, and this conference is a much-needed initiative that must focus on the opportunities the region brings for the ECO states. The Members of Parliament and parliamentary delegates including; Ms. Shinkai Karokhail (Afghanistan), Ms. Malahat Ibrahimgizi (Azerbaijan), Dr. Syed Ehsan Khandouzi (Iran), Mr. G. Rozyyev (Turkmenistan), Mrs. Ceyda Bolunmez Cankiri (Turkey) and Mr. Zohidov Erkin (Uzbekistan) addressed the session highlighting their countries’ narratives on the topic in addition to challenges and way forward viz a viz advancing tourism for development and poverty alleviation of our people especially the poor. The session enabled Members of Parliament, experts and parliamentary officials to ponder upon the much-needed development of local infrastructure such as; inter-regional transport, roads, hotels and resorts as well as tourist spots, to accommodate international tourists in the local context of member states. The discussion also highlighted the strategies for promoting regional tourism and development concurrently strategizing for poverty alleviation through development initiatives.
In the concluding session, the national and international delegates of the PAECO jointly deliberated and agreed with consensus on the joint statement of the session, which devised a way forward for advancing tourism for development and poverty alleviation in the region. In the final statement, they highlighted the importance of the ECO region and the benefits that can result from close collaboration among member countries. They stressed that the ECO countries’ governments must cooperate in all forms of tourism, which remains as a great driver of sustainable development and poverty alleviation. Resources should be pooled to build the capacity of local communities through education and training of our population especially in livelihoods connected to tourism. Furthermore, it was underscored that the elimination of terrorism is key to ensuring security in our region, which is vital to attract and develop our tourist industries.
The session was chaired by the Honorable Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Mr. Fawad Hussain Chaudhry. He welcomed the delegates of the ECO member countries and highlighted the importance of the ECO region, and the opportunities it entails. While sharing his remarks, he stressed upon the importance of enhanced tourism within the ECO regional states – leading to the sustainable development of the ECO member countries through greater cooperation in advancing tourism that will alleviate poverty from amongst the local communities. The session concluded with a group photo of the participants with the chief guest of the session.