This aerial photo taken on June 4, 2022 shows a fishing port in Gwadar in Pakistan’s southwestern Balochistan province.(Xinhua/Jiang Chao)
“In recent years, Pakistan’s domestic tourism has boomed and CPEC is the main driving factor behind it as it has improved connectivity and made road travel easy and shorter for tourists,” Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) Managing Director Aftab ur Rehman Rana said.
by Misbah Saba Malik
ISLAMABAD, Nov. 1 (Xinhua) — Pakistan’s southwestern province of Balochistan has the potential to become a hub for domestic and international tourism following the opening of the New Gwadar International Airport, a donation from the Chinese government under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), said a Pakistani official.
“In recent years, Balochistan has experienced a noticeable surge in domestic tourism and with the commencement of airport operations, geographical distances are expected to reduce, paving the way for an influx of tourists to Gwadar and surrounding regions,” Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) Managing Director Aftab ur Rehman Rana told Xinhua in a recent interview.
To facilitate tourism, PTDC will set up a tourist information center at the airport to provide them with comprehensive information about hotels, tourist sites and any other basic information, the official said.
He added that in order to utilize the potential of the airport, the Balochistan Coastal Development Authority has made a master plan and marked the areas along the coast on which tourist sites will be developed.
An aerial photo taken on June 4, 2022 shows a section of the China-backed Eastbay Expressway at Gwadar Port in Gwadar in Pakistan’s southwestern Balochistan province. (Xinhua/Jiang Chao)
“Balochistan boasts of a stunning coastline and there are ongoing efforts to develop eco-tourism resorts, beach parks, floating piers and relaxation spots along this coastline to cater to both domestic and international tourists, including those , who visit Gwadar for business reasons,” added Rana.
Talking about the security of tourists, he said that group tourism will be allowed in the initial stage mainly for security reasons.
“Tourists will be required to share their travel plans with a special tourist police that will be established to improve safety and support tourism activities. During this phase, tourists will get security arrangements while traveling in organized groups,” said Rana.
Subsequently, in the second phase, individual tourists will have the opportunity to explore the area on their own when tourism becomes more common and a comprehensive security plan is established in the area, he added.
Hailing CPEC for playing a big role in promoting tourism in his country, Rana said that its road network runs through almost the entire Pakistan and all major tourist sites are around the CPEC route.
“In recent years, Pakistan’s domestic tourism has boomed and CPEC is the main driving factor behind it because it has improved connectivity and made road travel easy and shorter for tourists,” he added.
Photo taken on Nov. 8, 2020 shows an Orange Line metro train leaving a station in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore. Pakistan’s first metro service was achieved as one of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects. (Photo: Sajjad/Xinhua)
The official said that they are currently engaged in discussions with Chinese tour operators to attract tourists and business professionals from China to Pakistan.
In line with these efforts, a group of tour operators from China recently visited Pakistan, and a delegation of Pakistani tour operators is scheduled to visit China to participate in the China Outbound Travel and Tourism Market Expo in November, PTDC officials said.
“Pakistan has great business potential in the tourism sector and if Chinese investors invest in building hotels and resorts in Pakistan, it will not only attract Chinese tourists to Pakistan but also boost the overall tourism industry in the country,” he added.
Launched in 2013, CPEC, a flagship project of China’s proposed Belt and Road Initiative, is a corridor linking Pakistan’s Gwadar port to Kashgar in China’s northwestern Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, emphasizing energy, transport and industrial cooperation.■