ISLAMABAD: On the second day of the 2nd General Conference of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Economic Cooperation Organization (PAECO), a special session on “Advancing Tourism for Development and Poverty Reduction in the States of the ECO ”was jointly organized by the National Assembly of Pakistan and the Pakistan Institute of Parliamentary Services (PIPS).
Senator Dr. Sania Nishtar, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister for Poverty Reduction, chaired the opening session and delivered the opening speech. She personally welcomed the national parliamentary delegates from Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey and Uzbekistan while the Hon. Deputies from Iran and Turkmenistan, who participated virtually in the fascinating two-hour deliberations.
Senator Dr Sania Nishter stressed that tourism is a key driver of sustainable development and poverty reduction of local communities. She further underlined that the CEE region has enormous potential, and this conference is an indispensable initiative which must focus on the opportunities that the region brings to the CEE states.
Parliamentarians and parliamentary delegates including; Ms. Shinkai Karokhail (Afghanistan), Ms. Malahat Ibrahimgizi (Azerbaijan), Dr. Syed Ehsan Khandouzi (Iran), Mr. G. Rozyyev (Turkmenistan), Ms. Ceyda Bolunmez Cankiri (Turkey) and Mr. Zohidov Erkin (Uzbekistan) addressed the session highlighting the stories from their countries on the subject in addition to the challenges and the way forward, namely advancing tourism for the development and poverty reduction of our people, especially the poor.
The session enabled Members of Parliament, experts and parliamentary officials to reflect on the essential development of local infrastructure such as; inter-regional transport, roads, hotels and resorts as well as tourist sites, to welcome international tourists in the local context of the Member States. The discussion also highlighted regional tourism promotion and development strategies alongside poverty reduction strategies through development initiatives.
At the closing session, the national and international delegates of PAECO jointly deliberated and agreed to consensus on the joint declaration of the session, which designed a way forward to advance tourism for development and reduction. poverty in the region. In the final declaration, they underlined the importance of the ECO region and the benefits that can result from close collaboration between member countries. They stressed that the governments of CEE countries must cooperate in all forms of tourism, which remains a major driver of sustainable development and poverty reduction. Resources should be pooled to build the capacity of local communities through education and training of our people, especially in tourism related livelihoods. In addition, it was stressed that the elimination of terrorism is essential to ensure security in our region, which is vital to attract and develop our tourism industries.
The session was chaired by the Honorable Federal Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Mr. Fawad Hussain Chaudhry. He welcomed the delegates from OCE member countries and underlined the importance of the ECO region and the opportunities it brings. While sharing his remarks, he stressed the importance of improved tourism in OCE regional states – leading to sustainable development of OCE member countries through greater cooperation to advance tourism which will reduce poverty among local communities. The session ended with a group photo of the participants with the main guest of the session.