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LAHORE, Dec 18 (APP): Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar on Friday inaugurated first phase of Punjab Tourism for Economic Growth Project worth Rs 830 million in collaboration with the World Bank to promote tourism sites.

Addressing the ceremony here, the Chief Minister said that the government would make the province hub of tourism as per vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan. Punjab, the land of five rivers had huge potential in tourism however, there was a need to explore them, he added.

He said that more tourism promotion initiatives would be executed under the project in near future.

In first phase, the chief minister said that work would be carried out in Chakwal, Mianwali and Khushab districts, while in next phase tourist spots situated in Kotli Satian would be made accessible through better road network.

He said that religious and cultural tourism had great potential in the province in Jhelum, Lahore, Multan, Bahawalpur, Attock and other areas of the province and these sites would be promoted by the government.

Usman Buzdar said that the government would also extend cooperation to Public Private Partnership mode of work to carry out development work at tourism spots in the province.

Investment in this potential sector by private investors would also be encouraged, he added.

As many as 176 rest houses were opened for the general public for the first time and the booking process for these rest houses were made online for the convenience of the public.

He said that double-decker buses initiative for sightseeing was previously available in Lahore only, now it has been extended to Rawalpindi as well, whereas it would be further expanded to other cities soon.

Availability of sufficient funds for the tourism development department was ensured so that it could work for the tourism promotion without any hurdle.

Usman Buzdar maintained that along with tourism, steps were taken for the promotion of cultural activities as well to highlight soft image of the province.