Islamabad: Inbound tourism in Pakistan has witnessed a marked increase of over 70 per cent during the year 2018 as compared to corresponding year, mainly due to multiple initiatives, specially improved security situation.

“The number of foreigners who visited Pakistan in 2018 on tourist visas stands at 17,823, which was 10,476 in 2017,” according to the data released by Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC).

Overall, 60,070 foreigners visited tourist attractions in the country during the past six years, especially to the mesmerising places located in the northern parts of the country.

The report’s comparative analysis showed that the foreign visitors’ inflow declined drastically in 2014, by over 47 per cent, compared to 2013 when 10,560 foreign tourists came to Pakistan for including religious, adventure, or cultural tourism. Only 5,575 foreigners arrived Pakistan on tourist visa in 2014, it showed.

After 2014, the arrivals went up as a result of the gradual improvement in the security situation, following operations to eliminate terrorism from the country.

In 2015 and 2016, a slight increase was seen when foreign tourist count climbed to 6,475 and 9,161, respectively. However, inbound tourism started recovering in 2017 as the number of foreign tourists returned to 2013 level, with 10,476 visiting Pakistan on visas.

A PTDC spokesman said the government was eagerly pursuing its tourism promotion agenda and had taken remarkable steps to give a boost to this sector.

After the launch of the online visa regime, he said the foreign tourist arrival was increasing gradually.

He said religious tourism in Pakistan was booming due to two landmark initiatives of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government, including the opening of the Kartarpur Corridor and development of Buddhist trail from Swat to Taxila.

A large number of sites are located along that trail, which would attract pilgrims from 11 Buddhist countries, he added.

He said the Buddhist monks from various countries had started visiting their sacred sites in Pakistan and the provincial governments had started renovating those places.