LAHORE: The Punjab government has announced to open tourist spots from August 10, but the concerned departments have not yet received any notification in this regard, Pakistan Today learnt on Friday.
Tourist sites across the country have been closed for the last five months but after the end of the lockdown by the federal government, the provincial government has also decided to reopen recreational and tourist spots.
It has been decided to open tourist sites in the provincial capital, including the Lahore Fort, Jahangir Tomb, Dai Angah Tomb, and Noor Jahan Tomb.
Similarly, the double-decker bus for tourists run by Tourism Development Corporation Punjab (TDCP) in Lahore will also back on road for tourists from August 10.
Sources believe that the Punjab Archaeology Department lost Rs4 million while the Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA) lost Rs20 million due to the closure of tourist sites due to a government order.
Similarly, due to the closure of tourist destinations, TDCP also suffered a loss of more than Rs30 million because of the closure of resorts and the tour buses. In the days of lockdown, the company’s employees were also deprived of their salaries.
Malik Maqsood Ahmed, an official of the Punjab Archeology Department, said that the government had announced the opening of tourist sites but they had not received any notification in this regard.
“The highest revenue earning site for our department is the Shalimar Garden, which was completely closed to tourists during the lockdown. Now that the government has announced the opening of recreational and tourist destinations, all the SOPs [standard operating procedures] that will come up by the government will be fully implemented.”, said Maqsood Ahmed.
An official of the Lahore Fort said that thousands of tourists used to come to the fort on a regular basis and WCLA had a good income in terms of tickets. “Our offices were open with limited staff even during lockdown, but no tourist activities were conducted. Implementation of SOPs at Lahore Fort will be ensured,” he added.
An official of the tourism department also shared the SOPs issued regarding tourism, which state that supply of masks, gloves, and hand sanitizers would be ensured at every tourist and recreational site.
Similarly, the staff at government resorts and restaurants would be required to undergo daily medical check-ups and ensure the supply of hand sanitizers and tissue papers on rooms and dining tables. However, according to SOPs, it will be necessary to display awareness material for the public.
Speaking to Pakistan Today, Minister for Tourism and Sports Rai Timur Bhatti said that SOPs have been devised by the Punjab Tourism Department. “The decision to open up tourism is a good one, but we have to be very careful. The department has also issued regular instructions for the chairlift in Murree and other tourist spots across the province,” he said.