ISLAMABAD: Expressing her love for Pakistan, Polish travel blogger Eva zu Beck, who stirred the ‘Kiki Challenge’ controversy in a PIA simulator recently, announced her decision to launch the world’s first interactive travel show for Pakistan combining social media, TV, live content, written words and on the ground activities.

Ms Beck announced the launch of her new venture at the National Press Club on Saturday. She said it was her passion to promote tourism in Pakistan and fight misrepresentation of the country in the social media.

“Nearly 40pc of travellers take the idea of their destinations through social media. We find Pakistan totally missing in that space.”

It is my passion to promote tourism and fight misrepresentation of the country on social media, Eva zu Beck says

She also identified challenges faced by Pakistan’s tourism sector which included lack of tourist friendly infrastructure and limited information about transport, hotels, guesthouses etc.

She said her initiative might lead to the availability of such information.

She said the mission of the show would be to transform how international travellers think about Pakistan and create a positive and long-lasting change to the local tourism industry.

“It is high time we establish Pakistan as a destination for travellers looking to experience the perfect combination of nature and culture in a single setting,” said Ms Beck.

“The big question that nobody is asking is how we can develop the local tourism industry in responsible and environment friendly ways?”

She said in attracting more attention to Pakistan as a tourism hub, the travel show would work with local organisations to expand the current tourism infrastructure and ensure responsible growth.

“In addition to promoting tourism in Pakistan at the international level, this programme will showcase the creativity and media innovation coming out of the country’s young generation. At the heart of the undertaking will be collaboration with local talent and foreign influencers,” she added.

Ms Beck attracted criticism from local authorities while trying to promote Pakistan’s soft image through her strong social media outreach on Independence Day.

She recorded a PIA “Kiki Challenge” video that was featured across all the major media outlets. But the chairman of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) sensed some corruption case in the matter and took notice of the video.

Ms Beck at the press conference said she did not receive any written notice from NAB.

“I know about the notice as much as you all know about it,” she said, adding she was blogging about Karachi when she was contacted by the PIA marketing team to work on this unusual idea.

“It was a training plane parked in a covered training area and the challenge was done with all formal permission,” she added. “I received overwhelming positive response from every section of society.”

She said she was overwhelmed by the love and encouragement in Pakistan.

“I came here with a totally different perception. The perception about Pakistan on foreign media is totally opposite of what the reality is,” she added.

The Senate Standing Committee on Aviation recently also discussed the Polish tourist’s video.

Members, including Senator Sherry Rehman, criticised the objections over the matter and wondered what was wrong in the video.

“We should not make it an issue. There was nothing wrong in it and we should not criticise everything. Even she (tourist) does not need to apologise for promoting Pakistan,” said Ms Rehman.

After graduating from the University of Oxford, Ms Beck spent five years developing Culture Trip, a London-based travel media start-up that has five million social media fans and over one billion video views.

Published in Dawn, August 19th, 2018

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