LAHORE – The Tourism Development Corporation of Punjab has planned to establish seven new resorts across the province in order to facilitate and attract more tourists, officials told TheNation.

The officials said they were working to make feasibility reports for establishment of seven more resorts at different tourism places including Darabi Lake, Chakwal, Nankana Sahib, Ganda Singh Border, Soon Sakesar Valley, Floating Restaurant at Sahiwal’s Kinan Park and at Fort Monroe chairlift. They said they would complete feasibility reports during the fiscal year and after the approval of TDCP Board of Governors meeting, the PC I of all projects would be forwarded to Planning and Development Department for approval.

Tourism, which is one of the largest industries in the world and is considered the economic back bone of many countries, is anticipated to surpass all the other industries, in revenue and employment generation by the year 2020. Pakistan is blessed with enormously rich in unique gifts of a vast chant of natural/man made assets and historical/cultural heritage. But, unfortunately, tourism could not gain attention of the rulers since the establishment of Pakistan.

The TDCP was established by the Government of Punjab on May 4, 1987 with the purpose to promote and develop tourism in the province and to set up the requisite infrastructure for the encouragement of tourism as well as to provide facilities of motels and restaurants to the tourists at the different tourism sights. The corporation is also aimed at to set up tourist information centres to provide relevant information and to develop existing and new tourist destinations across the province.

Unfortunately, the TDCP, despite spanning about 25 years, could not take any visible step to promote the tourism and to attract the tourists. But, during the last few years the corporation has taken some noticeable steps for the promotion of tourism in the province like Cholistan Jeep Rally.

According to the TDCP Managing Director Saad S Khan, the rally, which is also a major event of the TDCP with the budget spending of Rs 10 million, attracted tens of thousands people from across the country this year. Though, no foreigner team had come to participate in the rally, but the TDCP MD was hoping that there would a good number of foreigner participants in coming years.

Mr Khan further said the TDCP also enhanced its Tourism Information Centres in order to facilitate the visitors and currently seven TICs were working across the province including four in Lahore situated at Temple Road, Lahore Airport, Lahore Fort and Shahi Hammam. The MD said the corporation had 14 resorts at various tourism sights including Murree, Kallar Kahar, Fort Monroe, Chiniot and others. He said it had also a chairlift and cable car sky resort at Patriata.

Saad S Khan said: “The corporation is facing financial problems as it generates about Rs 160 million by outsourcing the resorts and Patriata chairlift. Our expenditures are about Rs 210 million. In order to tackle the deficit of Rs 50 million, we are paying salaries 30 per cent less than other government organisations.” The MD further said the corporation had total 409 staffers including 110 in Lahore office. He said the corporation had only six vehicles that were insufficient to run the affairs and due to which we were compelled to hire private vehicles which adds more financial burden to the corporation.

Saad S Khan also said after the 18th Amendment and abolishment of Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation, we did not have any mechanism to keep the record of foreigner tourists as the airport authorities did not allow to access the data. However, he said, negotiation in this regard were underway with federal authorities to have access to the record.