ISLAMABAD                -         Pakistan yesterday celebrated its elevation as the best holiday destination by the World Index. Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi congratulated the nation on declaration of Pakistan as the best holiday destination.

In a statement, he said this ranking vindicates the international acknowledgement in Pakistan’s positive policies. The FM reminded travel advisories were being issued in connection with violence in India due to its brutal policies in the past while “now Pakistan is being declared the best place to visit.” Qureshi appreciated the security forces and law enforcement agencies which rendered sacrifices to purge the country from the scourge of terrorism. Pakistan was ranked as the best holiday destination for 2020 by Conde Nast Traveller, a luxury and lifestyle travel magazine. This information was yesterday tweeted and shared by World Index on their official Twitter handle.

According to the list provided, Pakistan topped the list followed by the United Kingdom, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia and Brazil. Other countries that made it to the list included Australia, Ireland, the Philippines, France, Sicily, Senegal, the United States of America, Lebanon, China, Denmark, the British Virgin Islands, Morocco, Panama, Croatia and Japan.

Citing the list shared by the World Index, President Dr Arif Alvi took to his Twitter account and said: “Recognition of the most remarkable and beautiful place on Earth. Pakistan is a country of hospitable people, tall snow covered peaks, glaciers, beautiful rivers and serene lakes. Cradle of the ‘oldest’ Indus Valley civilization and then later, the cradle of Buddhism. Visit us and enjoy.”

In a feature published on its website by Lizzie Pook and Tabitha Joyce, the Conde Nast Traveller magazine hailed Pakistan as the “adventure traveller’s must-visit” country.

“Thwarted by tales of terrorism and Taliban rule, Pakistan’s tourism industry has been stymied for the past two decades,” it said, adding that despite these concerns, the country’s “ancient valleys (and) relaxed visa restrictions” were finally bringing it back into focus.

“Pakistan has more peaks taller than 22,965ft than China and Nepal combined, making it an almost magnetic spot for adventure travelers and intrepid hikers,” it said.

“Visitors can follow in Michael Palin’s steps while traversing the 12,250ft Shandur Pass, home to the world’s highest polo field, or meet with the Kalash people of the Hindu Kush, famed for their cowrie-shell headdresses and brighter-than-bright embroidery,” it added.

But the country’s majestic mountain ranges are not the only attraction, according to Conde Nast Traveller. “In Lahore, the sight of 100,000 worshippers crammed into the sandstone 17th-century Badshahi Mosque will leave you breathless, while Mughal-era architectural masterpieces stand resplendent on bustling street corners,” it said of the provincial capital of Punjab province.

Jonny Bealby, founder and Chief Executive Officer of adventure-tour operator Wild Frontiers told the magazine that he was seeing substantive improvements in Pakistan’s tourism industry.

“A focus on security measures, which saw the British FCO [Foreign and Commonwealth Office] lift its advice against travel to large parts of the north, and the election of Imran Khan, who has vowed to increase international tourist numbers, has already had an impact,” he said.

“Hardy visitors will find that little has changed since Mughal times - with the peaks’ gemstone mines, fairy meadows and winding trails worn into the ground by heavy-laden yaks - while the Karakorum, stretching upwards from the north-west frontier and carved into the ancient bedrock, is one of the world’s most astonishing highways,” it adds.

According to the magazine, its list is compiled by examining holiday destinations that are geographically diverse, as well as offer a range of trips, from eco-tourism to adventure.