EcoSikh helped Pakistan Punjab to receive money from the World Bank of 5.8 Billion rupees which it will use to promote tourism to Sikh Heritage sites. This article was originally published on: Pakistan Today
Punjab has conceived a Rs 5.8 billion plan with the assistance of the World Bank to develop six Sikh Gurdwaras and one Buddhist site to promote religious tourism in the province that can help it earn up to $1.85 billion per annum.
The project was recently approved by the Central Development Party. After approval of the federal government, Punjab plans to start negotiations with the World Bank for financing the project.
The World Bank will provide assistance of Rs 4 billion while the remaining financing of Rs 1.8 billion will be arranged on the basis of public private partnership. The plan will be executed in seven districts of the province. Punjab plans to execute the project from January 2016 and complete it by December 2018.
The Punjab government plans to upgrade Gurdwara Janam Asthan and Bal Lila Sahib; Gurdwara Tambu Sahib in Nankana Sahib; Gurdwara Sacha Soda, Farooqabad, Sheikhupura; Gurdwara Rori Sahib, Eimenabad, Gujranwala; Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, Kartarpura, Narowal; Gurdwara Dera Sahib, Lahore; Gurdwara Punja Sahib, Hassan Abdal and Buddist Stupa, Taxila.
The project aims to promote Sikh religious tourism by providing electronic visa regime, especially for Sikh diaspora in the US, UK and Canada, quality accommodation, food services, transport, easy access to holy sites and enhanced security and services at the Gurdwaras. Initially the project plans to attract 50,000 Sikh diaspora every year for the pilgrimage.
A number of studies carried out by the World Bank have reported that if the development of Gurdwaras is carried out in a professional manner it will help revive the tourism industry in the country. The income generation potential from only the Sikh pilgrim tourism is estimated at around $1.85 billion per annum.
Under the project, Punjab will provide land for the construction of Sikh Heritage and Cultural Museum, 220 guest rooms near the Gurdwaras and a three star hotel in Sheikhupura. All the major roads linking these Gurdwaras with the nearest towns and railway stations will be widened and upgraded. The services at the arrival and departure lounges at Lahore Airport, Wagha, Nankana Sahib and Badami Bagh Railway Stations will be improved.