Taxila-Korea university scholar Professor Lee Kun Jong expressed his disappointment and dismay over paucity of tourists’ facilities at Taxila Museum and ancient Buddhist sites urging government to improve tourists’ infrastructure to fetch religious tourists. Professor Lee was talking to media here at Taxila Museum on Tuesday. While expressing disappointment over poor state of affairs at ancient sites of Dharmarajika stupa and Sirkap also known as second city of Taxila, he said that the various parts of the site are filled with wild grass and no informative boards are erected for local and foreign tourists for their information. He said that contrary to international museums practice, the Taxila Museum has no informative plates at various galleries and the tourists just wander around the galleries without getting any information about the importance, significance and historical background of statues or the life story of Buddha. He said that no information leaflet is available for foreign tourists that could reveal information about various sites and museum to the international tourists. The professor  added that the government should provide every tourist  some study material with the ticket they charge at the entry of the museum in English, Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Thai and other languages so that tourists could take it with them to their respective countries and attract others through such material. The professor said, “The archaeology staff should come out of their respective offices and improve the tourists’ facilities at the museum and ancient Buddhist sites spread all over the Taxila valley”. He said that if there is a paucity of funds faced by the department or government, they should share their suggestions and proposed plans with international donor agencies like UNESCO, KOICA and JICA for technical and financial assistance. He was of the view that collaboration and joint ventures could be made with various universities like Korea University which is one of the leading universities in Korea.

He said that he has visited over 70 countries across the world and no single country has potential like Pakistan, especially related to religious tourism and if the government focuses on security improvement and infrastructure development, it could become a hub of tourists from the Buddhist world.  Prof. Lee was of the view that Pakistan has a unique landscape, rich cultural heritage and tremendous natural beauty to attract millions of tourists’ especially religious tourists from across the globe. “Since most of Gandhara Buddhist heritage sites are in Pakistan, we can make a ‘Mecca for Buddhists’ in this region,” he said. While shedding light on the pity state of tourism structure he said, “Not even a single tour operator is present in Pakistan which can offer me a cheap tour package for Buddhist sites. If you have situation like this, then how can you fetch tourists from abroad?” he questioned. 

Professors Lee said that although Buddhism took birth and flourished from this part of the region, but every year millions of Buddhist tourists visit neighboring India due to better security situation and attractive tourists’ infrastructure. Responding to another question, Professor Lee said that the world is unaware of the rich Buddhist sites and ancient Gandhara civilization preserved in Pakistan and if the proper awareness would be made through embassies, Islamabad’s soft image in the global community would be improved, besides attracting good religious tourists. 

 

“Apart from organizing International Buddhist conclave, Pakistan should organize different events as per Buddhist calendar to observe the important religious day officially like India does, to make Pakistan a key pilgrimage destination for millions of practicing Buddhists around the world,” Professor Lee added.