Pillar 10
Ground and Port Infrastructure

Key Indicator : Road density, Quality of roads, Railroad density

Efficient infrastructure for road and railway networks is vital to the growth of the tourism sector in a country. Travellers and tourists are able to access central business locations and greater attractions with the availability of and accessibility to transportation.[179] Presently, Pakistan ranks 59 with a value of 3.6 for ground and port infrastructure in the T&T Development Report 2021.

Pakistan considerably lacks in terms of ground infrastructure. The total length of road in all provinces, including Azad Jammu & Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan is 493,088 km.[180] This puts the country with a road density of 0.56 km of total road per 100 sq. km of land and with a paved road density of 0.26 km per 100 sq. km.[181] Similarly, the railway network stretches to 7,791 km,[182] with a railroad density of 0.01 km of total railroad per 100 sq. km of land.[183]

The devastating flood in 2022, has destroyed or damaged over 5000 km of roads and 243 bridges in the country in 2.5 months. KP is the most affected province in which almost 1600 km of roads have been damaged.

The previous government worked with China to introduce new focus areas in China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project according to the country’s needs. Included below “One Corridor, Multiple Doors”, the government aims to promote inclusivity and sustainability in growth, and has created areas such as trade and access to market, and regional connectivity, among others, that will lead to the development of ground infrastructure and subsequently social and economic progress.[184]

Moreover, Pakistan is opening itself to trade through the railway sector by resuming operations of the first Islamabad-Tehran-Istanbul (ITI) train carrying goods from Pakistan to Turkey via Iran after 10 years. The three countries also plan to launch a passenger train on the same route in the future which will increase regional connectivity and give a major boost to international tourism in Pakistan.[185]

In order to encourage domestic tourism, the government has been constructing various motorways across the country for ease of mobility for travellers. An example is Swat Motorway which opened in 2019-20 and enabled around 2.7 million people to visit the area in 2021 during the Eid holidays.

Besides promoting local tourism, the government is also focused on drawing foreign tourists by establishing routes, such as between Swat and Gilgit.[186]

In 2020, the government set up Peshawar BRT, a high-quality bus rapid transit system in Peshawar, for efficient transport of travellers.[187] This affordable public transport system has received the international Gold Standard Service award in 2022 for its passenger-oriented and environment-friendly facilities.[188] Prime Minister Shehbaz Shareef has also inaugurated orange, blue and green line bus services in Rawalpindi and Islamabad for different routes to facilitate the local people.[189]

The devastating flood in 2022, has destroyed or damaged over 5000 km of roads and 243 bridges in the country in 2.5 months.[190] KP is the most affected province in which almost 1600 km of roads have been damaged.[191] Besides this, the flood water has also washed away railway tracks and bridges due to which train operations have been suspended in those areas. The damage and service suspension have caused Pakistan Railway a loss of more than 11 billion PKR.[192] The restoration of roads, bridges, and railway tracks will not only take time but will also cost the country financially due to reconstruction and transport delays occurring in affected areas. These problems will, in turn, affect the country’s tourism industry, therefore, the government needs to look into this issue on a priority basis.

The transport infrastructure in the country requires effective development of a ground network which is significant for all industries, particularly for tourism, as the sector will have to deal with the rapidly growing domestic and international tourism in the future.