LAHORE - Punjab Tourism Minister Raja Yasir Humayun on Saturday shared salient features of his strategy to turn the tourism sector into a booming industry.

Besides identifying iconic tourist destinations and developing a comprehensive policy framework, he said his team was working for Pakistan’s recognition in the tourism world.

In a brief chat with The Nation, the minister said, “What we have failed to understand over the years is that sightseeing is just a part of modern tourism; it’s not everything.” He said that tourists prefer going to places that offer them a chance to engage in multiple activities and give them diverse experiences.

The minister said, “Generally, tourism in Pakistan is just about going to scenic sites, mostly in Northern Areas. And that experience too is limited and expensive.

“We are going to offer more than sightseeing. We are going to offer hiking, zip lining, mountain climbing, rafting, mountain biking, paragliding and parasailing.”

Keeping these things in mind, Raja said, his team is going to start with Kotli Sattian, an area known for its lush green hilly forest, and turn it into a prime tourist destination.

Next, he said, they will turn their attention to Chakwal – a district which has 26 lakes besides the lush green fields, hills, forests and wildlife sanctuaries.

Yasir said a permanent rally track will be made in Chakwal and the area will be made Punjab’s Lake District. In this regard, he hinted at replicating England’s Lakeland model.

The minister also expressed his resolve to promote religious and spiritual tourism. He said he has plans to develop Nankana Sahib, which is visited by a good number of Sikhs from around the world. About tourism potential after opening of Kartarpur Corridor, the minister said hundreds of thousands of Sikhs will come to Pakistan after the opening.

“Punjab has three very important places for Sikhs – Nankana Sahib,  Sucha Saudha and Kartarpur. A huge number of Sikh pilgrims has always been interested in coming to Pakistan. Previously they were just allowed to visit Nankana Sahib and other religious places to perform their rituals.

“Kartarpur was a no-go area for Sikhs and they used to peep at it through binocular from the other side of Punjab. The opening of this corridor would open a new avenue of religious tourism,” he said.

About spiritual tourism, Yasir said Tilla Jogian would be developed as a yoga site. Furthermore, Koh-i-Suleman, Attock, Kalabagh, Khushab, Bahawalpur and Jhelum will be developed, he said.

A safari rally will also be introduced in Punjab, he said. He said 70 guesthouses are being converted into residential facilities for tourists and would open within a month.