Economic interest at the shrine of Sufi Saint, Lal Shahbaz Qalandar.

 
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Byline: Khalil Ahmed

To underpin the economic activities and to generate employment opportunities for the locals, plenty of countries and territories across the globe have identified myriad of categories of tourism. Some of the most prevalent are Business tourism, Culinary tourism, Fashion tourism, Rural tourism, Space tourism, Sports tourism, Wellness tourism, Environmental tourism, Historical tourism, Ethnic tourism, Cultural tourism, Adventure tourism, Music tourism, Wild life tourism and last but not least Religious tourism.

Religious tourism across the globe is deemed as one of the fastest growing sectors and as per the figures of the UNWTO, over 300 million tourists visit the world's major religious sites each year bringing economic opportunities for the locals in general and for the economy in particular. Over two million Muslims go to perform Hajj in Makkah, Saudi Arabia every year. Senso-ji Temple and Meiji Shrine in Tokyo Japan is visited by around 30 million visitors per annum. Vatican City in Rome is visited by over four million devout Catholics annually. More than 13 million visitors go to Notre-Dame, Paris, France each year. More than 20 million people visit the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe every year in Mexico City. Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi India attracts 22 million visitors a year.

Religious tourism is not only for those who specifically travel for the religious reasons but also for those who do not belong to that particular religion, however, go to visit the religious places and experience rituals. It is like a Muslim in Pakistan who visits Nankana Sahib to visit gurdwara or to go to Tharparkar to visit Hindu temples. Such visits bring harmony and respect for each other, to say the least.

Undoubtedly, the pilgrimage is a different form of tourism which is catching up globally. This has given impetus to the Religious tourism in more or less in every part of the world.

There are ample religious sites in Pakistan which are visited by a large number of people not only from within Pakistan but also from abroad. One of the most popular is the ancient city of Sehwan Sharif in Sindh's Jamshoro District. This city is renowned for its beautiful shrine of Sufi saint, Lal Shahbaz Qalandar and for the annual festivities which take place on the annual Urs (death anniversary) held on the 18 Sha'aban, which is the eighth month of the Muslim lunar calendar. The annual Urs usually lasts for three days during which an...

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