CPEC boosting Pakistan’s tourism industry
China is slowly moving towards becoming the world’s largest economy and Pakistan seems to be benefitting from it. The citizens of China have very strong spending power which is a great boost for domestic consumption as well as the global economy. According to statistics revealed in the report of China Tourism Academy, tourists from China made 140 million visits abroad last year and spent more than US$120 billion. Chinese travellers are looking for unique places to visit in their neighbouring countries. Chinese tourists are getting distracted from political instability and lack of facilities in traditional tourist spots of the western countries. Although its neighbours are working hard to offer a suitable environment. Pakistan is an excellent place for those who prefer less travelled roads. As per US Forbes magazine, Pakistan stands among the top ten coolest places to visit in 2019. Since the 1950s, Chinese tourists are coming to Pakistan. They are fascinated by the strong diplomatic ties, visa-on-arrival service plus complete waiver of visa fees. There is no language barrier between the two countries because of local institutes promoting language in each and every corner. In terms of financial services, all the major banks have established Chinese desks and a new application called Alipay to start local consumption. The growing ties between the two countries are because of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor called CPEC and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Since the inclusion of these two major initiatives, Chinese travellers are often visiting Pakistan. With the construction of the Karakoram Highway named Friendship Highway connecting China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Province with Gilgit Baltistan, the two countries share road links. Since the inception of the CPEC, a luxury bus service is running from Lahore to Kashi in Xinjiang. For those who can’t afford luxurious services, Pakistan offers less costly services and accommodations on sharing basis for tourists. In insurgency-affected regions, Pakistan government is setting up new hill stations to take advantage of the mountainous terrain of the north and northwest. Taxila, a city located in northern Pakistan is known for its archaeological remains, preserved carefully till date. The Buddhist teachings have formed an important part of Chinese philosophy. During the Tang dynasty in the 7th century, Chinese monks made frequent visit to spiritual places in areas which are part of Pakistan. The historical riches of Pakistan are alive in the form of colourful festivals such as the Basant in Punjab and Chilam Joshi in Chitral. There is a close affinity between the cultural heritage of different regions. Chinese visitors want to escape the rough winters of northern China. These visitors are coming to Pakistan’s Gwadar beach from November to February. The potential of Chinese tourist spending can be traced through online travel platforms as Pakistani tour operators are actively present on these apps.