2007 is the official “Visit Pakistan 2007”:http://www.tourism.gov.pk/vpy/index.htm year. Musharraf himself “inaugurated”:http://184.108.40.206/search?q=cache:4BhtgNhGjg8J:www.presidentofpakistan.gov.pk/FilesSpeeches%255CAddresses%255C1221200615732AMDestinationPak15dec06.pdf+%22visit+pakistan+2007%22&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=7 the Visit Pakistan 2007 year with a lot of fanfare.
The page by page review of the “Visit Pakistan 2007 website”:http://www.tourism.gov.pk/vpy/index.htm follows below:
We’ll start off with the “front page”:http://www.tourism.gov.pk/vpy/index.htm which is a simple splash page with 6 links at the bottom.
Splash pages went out of style back in 1998, and today are the first sign of an incompetent website. Even if there really really has to be splash page, then there should be just one link which leads to the main website. Here we have 6 links, which point to a total of 4 other pages.
Perhaps one of those 4 links is the actual website. The first link takes you to the “Destination Pakistan 2007”:http://www.tourism.gov.pk/vpy/destination-pakistan2007.htm page:
!http://ko.offroadpakistan.com/images/2007/vp07p2.jpg! This is a placeholder page with a few pictures thrown in and some generic copy put in the middle. Completely content free, and certainly not the main website. Scroll down the page, and you get nothing – no links, no footer, nothing to indicate there is any further content at all. Going back to the original page, the next link is the “Events & Festivals”:http://www.tourism.gov.pk/vpy/events-festivals.htm:
Now it finally feels like we’re getting somewhere – there is a listing of events taking place in 2007. But, horrors upon horrors, there is no description of any of the events, and neither are there any links pointing to more information for those interested. For example, in April there is a Baisakhi Mela (Festival Sakhi Sarwar). Sounds interesting, but what about the local and foreign tourists who might be interested in attending the event? The Visit Pakistan website has no information whatsoever for the potential visitor. It’s not just that there is no information about any of the events, the website presents no way to the visitor to contact someone for further details. It seems all the sainted Ministry of Tourism could be bothered to do was just round up a list of events and put them on the site. I wonder if they even bothered to work with all the event holders to prepare them for the supposed influx of one million tourists?
There are only two more pages on the website, one an advertisement for the PTDC, and the other a typically stupid writeup on the Ministry of Tourism. No tourist cares that the Ministry is working on _policy formulation and development, as well as promoting and executing tourism investment projects._ The only thing this page is going to do is tell the potential tourist browsing the website that the sainted Ministry of Tourism could care less about tourism and tourists.
The website leaves so much to be desired that it’s obvious there was no time, money or thought put in any aspect of it. There is no “Contact Us” link anywhere on the website – this in itself is enough to condemn the website to the scrapheap. The proof is in the pudding, and the little of the website which does exist stinks to high heaven. The modern tourist uses the internet to plan his or her trips, and thus the website is a very important component of the entire Visit Pakistan scheme.
Where could the money for building a decent website come from? The money allocated already for the website has clearly been all siphoned away, so now the government needs to pony up some more funding. Pakistan is a poor country, but just see this news item from the “Dawn newspaper”:http://www.dawn.com/2006/11/27/fea.htm#2:
bq. …our *prime minister and federal tourism minister had launched the Visit Pakistan 2007 in New York* this month at a dinner gathering for about *400 guests, of whom some 80 per cent were Pakistanis.*
Many millions of dollars were spent on this dinner alone, which could have easily launched a kickass website – which would have done far more for promoting Pakistani tourism than the entire tourism ministry. The dinner was a complete disaster, as this “first hand account shows”:http://dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2006%5C11%5C19%5Cstory_19-11-2006_pg3_3 and the only thing it did besides wasting money was further establishing the already well established fact that the best thing for Pakistani tourism would be to abolish the Ministry of Tourism altogether. Hell, while it took the government two Boeing’s and a heck lot of more money to host one dinner, I figure it’d cost a lot less to build a truly comprehensive world class website. Millions are being spent as we speak on advertising the website url all over the world, but in typical Pakistani fashion there is nothing behind the advertising.
It’s all in the details – while the President and Prime Minister are throwing huge dinners all over the world and making firey speeches asking all and sundry to come visit, no one is watching the details. A good example is the “PTDC Taftan motel”:http://ko.offroadpakistan.com/pakistan/2005_12/ptdc_taftan.html. Historically, a lot of European travellers have passed through Pakistan from Iran to India, and the “first sight they get of the country is so utterly negative”:http://ko.offroadpakistan.com/pakistan/2005_12/ptdc_taftan.html that it’s no wonder that today’s overland traveler drives straight through Pakistan in a couple of days and crosses the Wagah Border into India. Overland travelers’ advice each other on various forums around the world to avoid the PTDC like the plague, and some even to avoid Pakistan. Back in 2005 I emailed the PTDC, the Ministry of Tourism and the President of Pakistan about the tragedy in Taftan, but there hasn’t been a reply yet, and I suspect there never will be.
The government spends millions of rupees abroad trying to ‘project a positive image’ of the country, but they fall far short where it really counts – on the ground back home. Tourists who visit Pakistan are the best ambassadors possible for the country – and govt. run institutions like the Visit Pakistan website and things on the ground like the PTDC Taftan are just a big message to them saying we don’t care to have you here, all those fancy-schmancy ‘Visit Pakistan’ advertisements you see in the travel magazines were just to lure you here.
A lot could be said about Nilofer Bakhtiar, the current Minister for Tourism, but since this is a website review all I will say that the same care and consideration seems to have been taken for selecting the Minister as was taken in hiring the website team.
* “Google Search for Visit Pakistan 2007”:http://www.google.com/search?q=%22visit%20pakistan%202007%22