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Will Indo-Pak thaw boost tourism?

April 25, 2005 12:19 IST
The recent thaw in ties between India and Pakistan has raised hopes of the tourism and hospitality sector, which sees the road to the neighbouring country as a passage of opportunities.

Tourism experts say a liberalised visa regime and further opening of the road, rail and air links could give a shot in the arm to tourism industries in both countries.

Several Pakistanis, they say are desirous of visiting India to meet their families, others wish to visit religious destinations such as Ajmer Sharif, Nankana Sahib and the Golden Temple. Madras and Bangalore are major centres of medical tourism.

The day is not far when one can think of going to have lunch in Lahore on a Sunday afternoon or a young man bikes it down to the city.

Once such a thing happens it would not be difficult to increase the present Pakistan arrivals, which are roughly 45,000 to be 4,50,000. The opportunities that will follow the softening of borders are simply mind-boggling.

The Indian hospitality industry is already looking at Pakistan as a potential investment destination.

An 80-member delegation, including representatives of the Taj Group of Hotels, Thomas Cook and managing director of Bharat Hotels, Lalit Suri, will be visiting Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore from May 23-28 for a business interaction with the Pakistani side, FICCI sources say.

Several Pakistani hoteliers were also in India recently to look at opportunities with the Indian hospitality business.

Vandana Ramnani
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