NANDANA FORT (JHELUM), Feb 28 (APP): Prime Minister Imran Khan Sunday said as the country had enormous potential of tourism with diversity of mountains, coastlines, historic and cultural sites as well as religious places, the government would develop Pakistan’s first-ever “tourist map” to attract local and foreign tourists.
“When compared with Turkey and Malaysia, which earn $ 40 billion, $ 20 billion per annum from tourism, Pakistan despite having numerous tourist sites earns nothing,” Imran Khan said while talking to media-persons at Nandana Fort (Baghan Wala Village) where he inaugurated the heritage trail.
The Prime Minister said that he wanted to develop and protect this area of historic significance – which he had visited some 25 to 30 years back – as a tourist site for the benefit of local people and the country.
Highlighting the historic importance of the area, he said that Abu Rehan Al-Beruni stayed at Nandana Fort, which used to be a large international university, for the quantification of earth’s circumference for the first time in 11th century.
The Prime Minister said the government would develop Baghan Wala as a modern village, protect its heritage, help establish tourist facilities such as hotels and restaurants and bring the areas to the world tourism map.
To a question, he said that with Turkey attracting tourists due to 2000 years old history of Istanbul and Malaysia attracting tourists due to coastline, Pakistan also had the oldest cities like Peshawar, Lahore and Shah Pur of Mughal era.
The Prime Minister, however, added that tourists would only come when the tourist sites were developed along with required facilities.
He further said that the promotion of tourism will not only bring in dollars in the country but will also create employment opportunities.
The Prime Minister said that besides the mountain tourism which attracted the local and foreign tourist interested in skiing and trekking, Pakistan also had famous historical sites like Mohenjo Daro and Harappa; Gandhara civilizations and religious sites for Budhists, Sikhs and Hindus.
Similarly, he said, with the shrines of various Sufi saints including Baba Farid, Data Ganj Bakhsh, Bullaih Shah, Pakistan also offered religious / Sufism tourism for Muslims across the world.
The Prime Minister said that despite insufficient facilities, domestic tourism was also on the rise in Pakistan as large number of people from across the country visit the mountainous areas and even sleep in their cars and vehicles.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister in a tweet posted on his social media account said,” Today I visited Nandana Fort where Al Beruni spent years in an Observatory and measured the circumference of the earth with amazing accuracy almost a 1000 years ago”.
“We have decided to preserve the sight and build an infrastructure there so it becomes accessible to tourists”, he added.