ISLAMABAD: The recently introduced Lahore’s sightseeing double-decker bus service has drawn immense public response as it is aimed to reflect international standards, besides ferrying travellers through the centuries old monuments and the bustling city, says a report appeared in the Guardian, the leading UK daily.
The writer who travelled through Lahore city recounted her experience by saying that as they passed the city’s 2,000- year-old monuments, the snap-happy domestic travellers on board beamed. “Slow down so we can take selfies,” the tour guide instructed the driver to everyone’s delight.
According to Sightseeing Lahore’s operations manager, Nayyar Mahmood, the response to the service, in bookings and feedback, has been “overwhelming”. The bus tour itself was conducted in red, open-top double-deckers, imported from China, and aims to reflect “international standards” by emulating similar schemes abroad.
The report said that launched in December 2015 and led by public-private partnerships, the sightseeing bus tour is part of a wider project to promote tourism. The tour takes almost two hours, with traffic, and covers more than 30 landmarks; beginning at the Punjab Stadium in the south-east of the city and ending in the north-west, at the Minar-e-Pakistan.
It said the drivers and passengers on the packed streets were enthused by the spectacle of the bus itself, waving and taking photos of the city’s latest attraction. Lahore, spanning almost 700 square miles and with a population of over 11 million, is not short of monumental attractions and this tour aimed to showcase them: the Badshahi Mosque is the world’s fifth largest; the Unesco-listed Lahore Fort is an exemplary piece of Mughal architecture; the Minar- e-Pakistan was built to commemorate the establishment of Pakistan in 1947.
And below the lofty crowd-pleasers are the intricate streets of the Walled City, “the real Lahore”. Stuffed with food stalls, crafts and colour, it’s a would-be backpackers’ paradise, the report added.
“We have fond memories of the Lahore of the late 1970s,” Sumbal the report quoted a citizen as saying. “We always thought the city had great potential for tourism.”
The report said that the state had a dedicated security force for foreign visitors, the Special Protection Unit, and this includes extra surveillance in hotels and in some instances armed escorts.
But the writer felt entirely comfortable and secure on the tour. The report further said that other initiatives in Lahore included a “Beautification Framework”: a drive to clean up Lahore and introduce creative street horticulture; park regeneration – the 130-acre redeveloped Greater Iqbal Park due to open in April will have lakes, sports facilities and a history museum; and the country’s first theme park will open late next year.