Pak to earn billions by exploiting religious tourism: Harpeet

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The leader of Sikh delegation Harpeet S Sandu Executive Director American Sikh Caucus Committee Thursday said Pakistan can earn billions of dollars foreign exchange by fully exploiting yet unexplored important avenues of Sikh and Buddha religious tourism.

This he said during his meeting with Chairman UK Pakistan Business Council and CEO Pakistan Furniture Council Mian Kashif Ashfaq here today.

He said Pakistan is uniquely placed to take advantage of religious tourism and luckily Punjab is home to five most important pilgrimage sites for Sikh community.

He said a largely unexplored avenue of tourism in Pakistan is religious tourism especially Sikh and Bhuddhist which can potentially generate over billions of dollars for Pakistan and create new jobs.

He said to secure maximum benefits from this sector; the government led by Prime Minister Imran Khan needs to immediately invest in developing and maintaining vital supporting infrastructure strictly in line with international standards set by UNESCO.

Harpeet S. Sandu said 79 % of 20 million Indian Sikh want to visit Pakistan but suffer a number of challenges which included lack of facilities, lodging, security and absence of proper training of hotel management staff in addition to low standard services. He said on the top of 83 % of the 8 million Sikh living abroad expressed similar desire.

He said in an unfortunate contrast hardly 10 percent have actually visited Pakistan which needs to swell in millions annually.

Deputy leader of the delegation Charanjit S Batth said in most of the countries tourism is the second highest source of foreign exchange.

He said religious tourism is thriving yet mostly neglected Industry in Pakistan, a country packed with landmarks of various religious ethnicities. He said areas like Taxila, Haripur, Mardan and Swat that’s made up to ancient Gandhra region can be more attractive for foreign tourists.

Goja Singh another member of Sikh delegation currently visiting Pakistan at the invitation of Mian Kashif Ashfaq who is also CEO Chenone and former Chairman FIEDMC said world’s oldest 50 feet long sleeping Buddha statue was unearthed in Haripur.

He said one of the survey revealed that 58 million “interested Buddhist visitors want come to Pakistan. He said Pakistan could not capitalise these lucrative opportunities.

Mian Kashif thanked the delegation for visiting Pakistan and their valuable suggestions for boosting religious tourism will be placed before Prime Minister Imran Khan for necessary directions.

He assured “once the wheels are set in direction, the number of foreign tourists and their revenue will grow with a snowball effect”.

He said due to liberal policies of Pakistan to attract foreign tourists last year travel company “wild frontiers” named Pakistan as the number one “ country to visit” and on the other hand the US based lifestyle and luxury publication also ranked Pakistan with identical status in 2020 he concluded.

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