“No.” I said, feeling curious.
“The ad in daily Jung says it is organized by Pakistani government and about 60 travel companies comprise the Travel Expo. It must be a very interesting and meaningful event.” She said convincingly. The zeal in her voice was hard to hide.
“Hmmm…sounds interesting.” I felt excited.
In a couple of minutes, we called all the like-minded friends and a group of 5 set off to Expo-center, hoping to experience something novel.
“So, Pakistani government, had finally realized the need of reviving tourism industry? We were hopeful and excited.” We discussed happily and appreciated the step.
We parked the car in the parking lot among a few more cars and something alarming buzzed inside us.
“So few cars??” We thought quietly and entered the expo. We approached the Reception Desk, and, asked in English: “What are you offering, today?”
Immediately, the faces were colorless, even unable to comprehend the question.
“Oh, we are natives, so why to bother speaking English, let’s speak Urdu.” We immediately made the consensus, without even uttering a word.
We translated the question. Still, there was silence, the reception lady was probably thinking of a reasonable reply to our question.
“Hmmm…” We moved on.
We couldn’t find ‘60 travel companies’ there. Only a few travel agencies were there, facilitating hujj-Umra and foreigh travel. Only about 4 companies told they want to promote local tourism, but still they had no info on inside-Pakistan-travel. A couple of stalls were there displaying the regional dresses, jeweler, pottery and souvenirs.
We were stunned and speechless by disappointment. The government travel companies had spent money to arrange all that without even giving it a thought. We could not find any clarity of mind on the aims and objects of the expo. Consequently, there was no strategy followed.
We did not figure out what exactly they wanted to achieve through the expo? We were expecting there would be some interesting pictorial information through print material and CDs/DVDs on the various tourist places in Pakistan, including all the provinces. There should have been some fascinating Travel Literature on the history, geography and culture of these regions. The captivating books of Pakistani Travel writer, Salman Rashid (who knows the country like palm of his hand) could have been there for the purpose to attract and engage the tourist. But unfortunately, they only had a book stall, on the kids story books, puzzles, coloring books that had nothing to do with the travel. I wish they had Pakistani travel literature, geographical or tourism-oriented puzzles and other entertaining material for kids as well, that could make Pakistani children love and appreciate Pakistan.
We expected that some travel and tourism movies on Pakistan would be played by multi-media to fascinate the potential tourist.
Alongside, we were supposing there must be some tourist travel agencies, who would deliver some information on the economical traveling and accommodation of the tourists in a specific area. There should have been discounted travel packages for the summer, where people could have had instant bookings for their travel and hotels. But we could hardly see this aspect there.
Background national songs could have also been a travel promotion strategy, which was completely missing.
It would have been good if they had divided the entire expo in all provinces of Pakistan. Each province would have presented the mentioned above information in an interlinked and organized way. Alongside, they would have had a display of cultural stuff like clothes, pottery, jewelry, paintings, food and other things, rather than just commonly known conventional articles. It would have been very fascinating for the visitors and would have motivated them to go and visit these parts of Pakistan themselves to know and experience more about them. Had they been successful in arousing the curiosity and interest on various places to tour, they would have ensured significant business.
Finally, we approached the Expo-Centre Reception Desk again to talk to some senior professional to convey our feelings, feedback and suggestions in good faith. Unfortunately, they were inept in communication and handling the visitors. Politeness and courtesy was the last thing on their list.
Their response was, “None of the above ideas are needed as those who are interested in travelling, search for all the information themselves and arrange for it on their own.”
We were stunned again. “If so, why had they arranged for the Travel Expo in the first place?”