The Pakistan Tourism Summit 2019 is under fire and it’s qWHITE interesting.
The Pakistan Tourism Summit is a two-day mega-event taking place in Islamabad at the Jinnah Convention Center. There are several panels with people working in the government and the tourism industry. But there is one-panel discussion that seems to have most peoples’ attention. The panel titled as the one with ‘Leading Social Media Influencers’.
Now, the poster for this panel has the names and pictures of all the panelists. And there is one similarity all the panelists have. They’re all White and foreigners
The Social Media influencers included Trevor James, Rosie Gabrielle, Eva Zu Beck, Alex, Amel Lamloum and Mark Wiens.
I have no words for this white-washed panel. Actually, no wait, I DO
Let’s look at what qualifies these people as the ‘leading social media influencers’. While Trevor James and Mark Wiens do have a considerable YouTube following, the other ‘influencers’ influence is pretty questionable.
Eva Zu Beck became famous from her Kiki Challenge and seems to have developed her career after she came to Pakistan and chances are most people outside of Pakistan still don’t know her since she gained most of her following here! I love her for being very humble and cute but to be honest, I will never understand how she’s portraying a ‘positive image’ of Pakistan abroad when most of her following is Pakistani?!
Then let’s talk about Rosie Gabrielle, she has 50,000 YouTube subscribers and 70,000 Instagram followers. She is lovely in her own right but I can give you ten Pakistani YouTubers with a bigger audience than her, off the top of my head.
Alex of the Lost With Purpose blog has 41,000 Instagram followers.
But my ABSOLUTE favorite is Amel Lamloum, who has 2,500 Instagram followers and under 1,000 YouTube subscribers. Apparently, that qualifies you as a ‘leading social media influencer’. WOW.
View this post on Instagram
Henna, bangles & this colorful pant make me feel like a princess. Tchalo/Halo to explore Karachi! . . . . . . . . . . . . #travelersofpakistan #ig_pakistan #naturepakistan #beautifulpakistan #everydaypakistan #travelpakistan #islamabad #travelbeautifulpakistan #etribune #tkcinsta #bangles #pakistan #yogateacher #karachi #sindh #frenchtraveller #induscivilization #indusriver #letsgopakistan #wu_pakistan #makli #travelpakistan #dawn_dot_com #karachilife #henna #mehendi
Now, I really want to know who selected this panel because there was an immediate backlash by the public over those included in the panel
After the swift backlash, all of a sudden, new graphics of the same panel discussion appeared but this time with Sham Idrees’ name and picture added to the mix. What the organizers thought would be a good way to save face and add some ‘color’ to the panel, completely backfired because well, Sham isn’t a local Pakistani influencer either. Not to forget Sham isn’t exactly known for his “travel vlogging”.
Sooooo, anyone else see a problem with this? Anyone? pic.twitter.com/UdAGVnNPG7
— Hira Qureshi (@hiraq36) April 3, 2019
And I wasn’t the only one who has an issue with the lineup.
I can't see anything through the glare of the whiteness. Wait, let me put on my shades…
— Nida Kirmani (@nidkirm) April 3, 2019
The representation we’ve been fighting for ✌🏽
— نمرہ (@namra_gilani) April 3, 2019
Problem?? This is a freaking colonial poster! Farangi tourism summit
— Basharat Issa (@BasharatIssa) April 3, 2019
Honestly, I cannot comprehend how the person in charge of finding speakers for this panel somehow MISSED the hundreds of local influencers who are doing amazing work.
Ever heard of Mooroo, Irfan Junejo, Anushae Khan, Humna Raza, Umar Khan and I can go and on and on! You know local social media influencers who have A LOT of influence? And not a French/Tunisian Instagrammer who has 2500 followers. What a JOKE.
Honestly, I am not even mad at these goray influencers since they just accepted an opportunity which came their way. My beef is with the organizers of the event
How did they choose a panel which had NO local representation? If the panel was titled as a foreigners perspective or something of the sort, then I would understand including all these names. But a panel for social media influencers not including local talent? There is no excuse for that. They couldn’t find even a single local influencer for the panel? I find that very hard to believe.
When Atif Khan, the Minister For Tourism, Sports, Culture, Youth Affairs, and Archeology posted a graphic of the panel line-up, a lot of people weren’t happy. Including local creators who have been working on promoting Pakistan through social media as well and have considerable followings.
Even an Indian photojournalist pointed out how this panel wasn’t a good idea
You know when an Indian agrees with your awaam, maybe your awaam has a point?
Remember when the public bashed Cynthia Ritchie’s “patriotism” for Pakistan? Dear Pakistan Government, maybe you should have learned something from that incident
If so many people could immediately tell what was wrong with this particular panel by just looking at a graphic, just like they pointed out how Cynthia’s declaration of safety when local women are subjected to harassment everyday is not correct, how did it go unnoticed by the hundreds of people in charge of organizing the event is beyond me. I genuinely want answers from the organizers on why local influencers were so blatantly overlooked.
Why do we have such a hard time promoting our own local talent but embrace anyone who comes from the West with open arms and put them up on pedestals? I have had enough and it’s time we start recognizing whatever bias this is and spend time correcting it.
What do you think of this white washed panel? Let us know in the comments below.
Cover Image Via: @atifkhan_PTI / Instagram