ISLAMABAD        -        With the federal government is quite serious in pursuing its tourism promotion agenda to enhance its share in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth, the Balochistan government is still lagging behind in harnessing the sector’s true potential.

Balochistan, possessing plethora of tourist attractions along with 700 kilometer long coastal belt, still requires authorities’ attention to fully exploit tourism potential by developing infrastructure support system, rehabilitating the tourist sites and constructing new ones.    

Talking to APP, former Balochistan minister Mir Shahnwaz Marri said that the provincial government should take concrete measures to promote domestic tourism that could contribute huge revenue in the national exchequer.

He said the provincial government needed to enhance road connectivity, besides establishing motels and carrying out other development projects across the province. "The government must set up washrooms at tourist sites to facilitate the tourist visiting Balochistan", the ex-minister said. The incumbent government should also organize cultural events, besides providing the financial assistance to the artists for their economic well-being in the province, he added.

Marri said the development work should be initiated at the Ziarat and Hanna Orak tourism sites projects to explore the natural beauty as both were attracting a large number of tourists every year. “The province has 450 miles coastal areas like Gwadar, Jiwani, Pasni which can help promote inbound tourism. Besides this, Balochistan has numerous historical, religious, environmental and scenic sites which can be transformed into major tourist spots,” he pointed out.

“Quaid-i-Azam Residency with its lush green lawns, chinar trees and flower gardens offer a magnificent view of the whole valley. Ziarat keeps world’s largest Juniper forest,” he said.

He hoped that tourism promotion would eventually generate more jobs for the local community. “Balochistan is home to one of the most beautiful tourist destinations of the country that can attract a large number of tourists every year,” he mentioned.

An official of the Tourism Department on Wednesday said the government had allocated an amount of Rs760 million for the development and promotion of tourism sector of the province.

Highlighting the steps taken by the government in line with the promotion of culture and tourism in the province, he maintained that the government had set up a culture and tourism policy for the first time in the provincial history.

He said the provincial government had also allocated Rs 200 million to protect the centuries’ old heritage and civilizations of Mehrgarh, Mir Chakra’s Fort, Shahi Tump-Makran Civilization, Kech valley and other archaic heritage sites, adding that more steps were needed to promote the importance of those civilizations across the world.