Kartarpur Corridor To Give Much-Needed Boost To Pakistan’s Tourism Industry
LAHORE: The Kartarpur Corridor is attracting the attention of observers who see it as a ‘unique experiment’ at a time when mutual ties between India and Pakistan are at their lowest, Express Tribune reported.
However, despite the ongoing hostilities between the two neighbouring countries, the Pakistani government is hoping to turn the grand cross-border project into an important source of religious tourism.
With over 90 per cent of work completed, Pakistani authorities are looking for new ways to reap the maximum economic benefit from the corridor.
“Following Prime Minister Imran Khan’s vision, the government is aiming to promote religious tourism along with international standards,” said member of provincial assembly (MPA) Mahinder Pall Singh, who is also a member of the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB).
“As the Kartarpur Corridor project has garnered global attention in terms of both tourism and heritage value, the government has planned to promote this project as a hub of investment opportunity,” he said.
Singh further said that under the $50 million Punjab Tourism Economic Growth project, the government would restore and rehabilitate the birthplace of Nankana Sahib, Darbar Sahib in Narowal, Punjab Sahib in Hasanabdal, Rori Sahib in Gujranwala, Sucha Soda in Sheikhupura, Dera Sahib in Lahore and other religious spots in the province over the next five years.
“This project has immense heritage and cultural value, and consequently, has the potential to attract local and foreign investment,” he said. “The government has identified that the project has a huge potential for the hospitality industry along with developing tourism in the region,” he added.
Keeping in view its significance, the Punjab government is making a short documentary on the corridor to attract potential local and foreign investors, Singh said.
The documentary would help open up avenues for investment by portraying the image of a ‘vibrant and secure Pakistan’ before the international community, he added.
Moreover, the MPA said, “The documentary will not only help promote culture, heritage, and tourism but also promote a softer image of the country and help generate healthy economic activity in the form of trade and investments.”
The terms of reference (TORs) for the documentary have also been finalised by the government and show that the government intends to highlight the strategic location of Pakistan as a hub of culture and heritage with reference to the importance of other historic relics/monuments in the region. The documentary also intends to portray an image of openness, security, and friendliness to foreign investors by showcasing Punjab’s rich cultural experiences and elements of tolerance and diversity.
“We aim to build on concrete facts and eliminate many myths and misconceptions about security, isolationism, intolerance and poverty in the region, thereby, encouraging foreign tourists, students, spiritualists, academics and researchers to learn and enjoy the many benefits of travelling to Punjab and experience its history, art, music, food, festivals, hospitality and recreation,” Singh said, while talking in connection with the TORs of the documentary.
“It will also highlight the recently announced visa-on-arrival policy for residents of the United Kingdom, Malaysia, Turkey and 70 other countries,” he added.
The MPA also revealed that various government agencies, like ETPB, the Frontier Works Organisation (FWO), National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA), Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF), the Immigration and Passport Office and Pakistan Customs and Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (PSGPC) are working jointly to make the Kartarpur project a big success for Pakistan.
“It has been decided that a total of 5,000 Sikh pilgrims will come to Kartarpur on a daily basis between dawn and dusk. The FWO would be responsible for the repairing and maintenance of the terminal and they would also provide transportation to the pilgrims,” he said.
“Their buses will provide pick and drop services to and from a special point,” he added.
The MPA added that ETPB will look after the arrangements for food, residence and medical facilities for all Sikh pilgrims. Estimates suggest that a sum of Rs10 million would be required for daily food arrangements. Meanwhile, Pakistan Rangers would see to the security arrangements on a permanent basis, whereas the internal security of Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur would be handled by ETPB security guards.
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