The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the tourism sector hard in Pakistan over the past twelve months as lockdown restrictions prevent outdoor gatherings. However, the Punjab Archeology and Tourism Department has used the setback to complete the restoration and renovation work on many historical and tourist sites.
A magnificent museum has been set up in the 100-year-old Ram Piari Building in Gujrat. In Punjab, 190 new travel agencies, 65 new hotels and 140 restaurants have been registered during the past year in anticipation of a post-pandemic travel boom. Punjab Provincial Secretary Tourism and Archeology Ehsan Bhutta told the Express Tribune that a museum has been built at a historic 1918 mansion in Gujrat.
“The mansion was built by Sundardas Chopra in the name of his wife, Ram Piari. When the family migrated to India in 1947, a girls’ school was set up in the building,” he explained. “Later, this magnificent mansion was used as a hostel for students of Fatima Jinnah Girls College and University of Gujarat. But for the past three years, the wonderful mansion has been vacant, and a museum has been set up here,” he added. Bhatta says that now four galleries have been built at the facility.
These include Nagar Khana Gallery, Gandhara Gallery, Historical Gallery and Gujrat Gallery. There are two galleries in the upper part of the building that provide information about important personalities belonging to Gujrat. Among them are poets, writers, and decorated soldiers. A gallery has also been set up at the museum by the Gujrat Chamber of Commerce.
With their help, beautiful lighting has been provided in the museum. There are 40 rooms in the upper part of the building. The front part of the building is white while the side walls are red. The building has old wooden stairs and unique windows. Government improving local tourist spots amid lockdown According to archeologists and tourism experts, the tourism sector has been badly affected due to COVID-19.
In particular, the influx of tourists from abroad has decreased. The government has used the lull to improve infrastructure. Over the last one year, Dravar Fort, Allama Iqbal Museum, Hiran Minar Ponds have been renovated, as well as the Moorcraft Pavilion in Shalamar Bagh. A museum has been built in Kalar Kahar as well. The Ram Piari Museum has been opened for tourists too.
Rare photo galleries related to these historical places have been set up at Jahangir Tomb and Shalamar Bagh. Tourist work is going on in Qila Nandia. 190 new travel agencies have been registered in Punjab for the promotion of tourism, 65 new hotels and 140 new restaurants have been set up. Adviser to the Punjab Chief Minister on Tourism, Asif Mahmood, says there is no doubt that the coronavirus affected tourism all over the world.
“Tourist destinations will be opened to the public after the third wave subsides. According to the vision of the Prime Minister and the Chief Minister, the promotion of tourism and restoration of historical places in the province is our top priority. Our province is rich in tourism and historical heritage. During COVID, we are not sitting idle, but working day and night to restore our heritage,” he said.