CPEC and revival of tourism in Pakistan
Farooq Awan


valley to attract tourists.

Pakistan is home to some of the highest mountains in the world and is highly rich in landscape, mountains, glaciers, lakes and valleys. Pakistan is also prized with diverse culture which can become a source of attraction for the tourists from all over the world. However, due to unavailability of adequate infrastructure and some security issues in the past, the huge potential couldn’t be fully tapped. It is hoped that with the completion of CPEC, the tourism industry will rapidly grow and not only generate a huge foreign reserve for Pakistan but also promote a soft image of the country abroad.

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a multi-billion dollar project launched following the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Pakistan in 2015. The initiative will not only benefit China and Pakistan in terms of economic development and prosperity but has also the potential of converting Asia and Europe into a single block.

The CPEC has been envisioned as a corridor of peace, prosperity and development. Although, the initiative has certain challenges in its way but when implemented fully, it will certainly bring a new wave of growth and stability in the whole region. The people of Pakistan were adversely affected in the past due to inadequate growth opportunities and lack of right policies. The CPEC will have a transformational impact on the state and the prosperity of the people of Pakistan. The corridor will boost up economic development and create new business and job opportunities which will help alleviate poverty from the country.

The project will, in fact, help Pakistan create a balance between geopolitics and geo-economics, will improve infrastructure, fulfill energy requirements, ensure workforce development and trigger economic progress. The CPEC is being viewed as a game-changer for China, Pakistan and the entire region, which will result in regional integration and enhance connectivity and partnerships. The CPEC is not just the name of a network of roads and rail tracks but a comprehensive package of cooperative initiatives, partnerships and projects, which cover key areas of connectivity, information network, infrastructure, energy, industries and industrial parks, agricultural development, poverty alleviation, tourism, financial cooperation, livelihood improvement, municipal infrastructure development, education, public health and people-to-people communication.

During the regime of Ayub Khan in 1960s, the government drew up a ‘master plan’ for the development of tourism in Pakistan with the help of French consultants. The government invested large sums in the development of three forms of tourism in Pakistan: religious, archaeological and recreational.

Under the initiative, Sufi shrines and Mughal-era mosques were renovated, archaeological sites were refurbished and new hotels, cinemas and restaurants were constructed. Linda Richter in her book ‘The Politics of Tourism in Asia’ writes that Ayub Khan regime’s plan was a total success because by 1969, the number of foreign tourists arriving in Pakistan witnessed an appreciable growth.

To accomplish the dream of making Pakistan a tourism destination, the CPEC can play a vital role as this mega plan is a combination of infrastructure development projects and highways, railways and pipelines which will connect several countries with each other and provide a means for mutual interactions, engagements and people-to-people exchanges. The initiative also includes the expansion of Karakoram Highway, the road that connects China and Pakistan – which can prove to be a lifeline for the growth of tourism in Pakistan.

Pakistan is home to stunning Himalayan peaks, including K-2, and various magnificent valleys. It has beautiful Arabian Sea, deserts, Indus valley and ancient Buddha civilization carved in its mountains and historic forts. With the completion of CPEC project, there will be a massive increase in the number of visitors coming to Pakistan and the country can exploit this traffic to generate huge economic activity by development of tourism sector.

Gilgit-Baltistan is the hub of tourism industry in Pakistan which attracts millions of local and foreign tourists. Every year, approximately 2-2.5 million tourists, both domestic and international, travel to the northern areas in Pakistan. The government of Azad Jammu and Kashmir has already announced to set up a tourism corridor in the