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Pakistan beckons: Hidden jewel awaits Chinese tourists

Updated: 2023-10-05 13:26 ( China Daily )
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The Attabad Lake, one of the main tourist attractions in Gilgit-Baltistan, offers activities such as boating, jet-skiing, fishing and other recreational activities. [Photo provided by Pakistan Tourism Development Coporation]

Friendly ties between nations stronger with agreement to collaborate in Year of Tourism. 

In the rugged landscapes of Pakistan, the echoes of ancient civilizations whisper tales of splendor. Pakistan is extending an olive branch to tourists, inviting them to delve deep into its natural wonders, rich culture and historical treasures.

The Caretaker Minister of State for Tourism Syed Wasi Shah, in an exclusive phone conversation, disclosed Pakistan's grand vision for tourism.

2023 is the year both Pakistan and China have christened the Year of Tourism. "This collaboration is not merely a celebration; it's a foundation, a cornerstone for a new chapter in our efforts to amplify the tourism sector," said the minister.

Travelers from China can experience the heritage of one of the oldest civilizations in the world, worship at the rich collection of Sufi shrines and Buddhist monasteries, scale some of the highest mountains in the world, or experience natural beauty ranging from blossoming trees against a backdrop of snow-clad peaks in Gilgit-Baltistan to pristine beaches in Gwadar.

Pakistan's goal is to carve out a special place in their travel dreams, the minister added. "Our lands are blessed. From the sacred grounds of Takht-i-Bahi to the ancient city of Mohenjo Daro, from our vast Buddhist heritage to the mesmerizing Gandhara art collections in our museums, every corner tells a story."

Pakistan is certainly a heaven on Earth for tourists and Chinese tourists would find it their second home, he said. Authorities have made elaborate plans to attract people to explore Pakistan's tourist sites.

Strategic initiatives are underway; webinars connecting Chinese and Pakistani tour operators under the Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation umbrella have been initiated to strengthen business-to-business collaborations.

A specialized training seminar, on tourism promotion for developing nations, ran in Beijing between Aug 22 and Sept 11. PTDC was represented by two officers, joined by a delegate from the Tourism Department of Gilgit Baltistan.

"As the Year of Tourism rolls on, Pakistan and China look set to weave a new tale together. A tale where wanderlust meets history, culture embraces modernity and two nations draw closer, one traveler at a time," Wasi Shah said.

As the morning sun casts a gentle glow over the ancient Buddhist sites of northern Punjab province and central Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, it's not hard to imagine the allure these places hold for tourists from China.

According to the resident editor of The News, Aamir Ghauri, Pakistan is poised to showcase a tapestry of attractions for Chinese tourists, spanning the vestiges of ancient civilizations to Muslim heritage and the monumental remnants of Buddhism.

"Pakistan's tourism portfolio is brimming with unique offerings. Depending on their point of entry, Chinese tourists can explore some of the world's most pristine Buddhist heritage sites, cataloged on the UN's prestigious heritage list," Ghauri said.

A fervent traveler himself, he paints a vivid picture: "The Potohar region is a canvas of ancient Hindu edifices. Then there's Peshawar and Lahore, where the majestic echoes of the Mughal empire reverberate. And for the audacious souls, the towering peaks of Gilgit-Baltistan await, challenging them to touch the sky."

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