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Pakistan bid to attract Indian pilgrims

6 September 2007

Pakistan is determined to cash in on tourist arrivals from India. With more and more Indian pilgrims visiting Pakistan, the Pakistani authorities are now
focusing on promoting religious tourism and have identified 32 temples, gurudwaras, and sufi shrines for improvement.

Pakistan’s Daily Times newspaper has reported that the Pakistan Tourism and Resorts Development Department (TRDD) has planned to build hotels to promote religious tourism across Punjab due to the increasing number of religious pilgrims visiting Sufi shrines, gurudwaras, and Hindu temples.

The TRDD has launched a pilot project to provide “standard accommodation and affordable facilities” at Nankana Sahib, the Katasraj temple complex, Sufi saint Baba Farid’s shrine, and at Tilla Jogian.

Tilla Jogian is a 3,200-foot-high hill in Jhelum district that for thousands of years was a place of sun worship for Hindus because the sun can be seen
here early and sets much later due to its height. Tilla Jogian in Punjabi means the hill of saints.

An exhaustive strategy had been drawn up to improve service delivery for tourists to all the 32 religious places, Daily Times quoted a TRDD official as

TRDD has been planned to open new tourist sites in the province with the cooperation of district governments.

The TRDD is also making efforts to streamline Punjab’s hotel industry by formulating new rules and regulations for the registration of hotels to help tourists. Public-private partnership schemes are also being envisaged to improve room capacity and to involve more stakeholders in Punjab’s tourism industry.

According to the official, at present tourists are being overcharged by hotels and provided with sub-standard facilities.

The government of the Punjab province will spend up to Rs 50 million in each district of the province to improve tourist facilities and establish new
entertainment sites.

The government of Punjab is considering attaching the departments of Culture, Archaeology, and Transport with the TRDD to achieve better results. In fact, the federal government of Pakistan had attached these departments with the TRDD, but the Punjab government had not yet taken steps in this regard, the official said.

It is also planned to improve and streamline the performance of the Tourism and Development Corporation of Punjab (TDCP). Despite 2007 being the
‘Year of Tourism,’ the Punjab government had so far not issued any directives to improve tourist resorts and creating new sites.





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