The Economic Impact of COVID-19 on Religious Tourism to the Kartarpur Corridor

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Dublin Institute of Technology
The aim of this paper is to analyse the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on religious tourism in the Kartarpur Gurdwara Corridor between the Punjab States of Pakistan and India. The corridor was opened as a peace building initiative 72 years after the partition of India-Pakistan. In November 2019, thousands of Sikh pilgrims visited Kartarpur and Nankana Sahib in Punjab to celebrate the 550th birth anniversary of the founder of the Sikh religion Guru Nanakji, where he spent last 19 years of his life. The Government of Pakistan invested heavily to build the infrastructure facilities for connecting both borders for religious tourism. The two phases of development of Kartarpur created economic opportunities for the growth of bilateral trade, religious tourism, diplomacy, and peaceful relationships. However, the COVID-19 based travel lockdown caused devastating economic impacts on the Kartarpur religious tourism site and related businesses just four months after its opening. This paper highlights the importance of Kartarpur religious tourism and the devastating economic impact from COVID-19 on the niche spiritual tourism-based economy, employment, marketing, and peace associated with Kartarpur. Qualitative content analysis was adopted using quotes from internet sources to reach findings. Some opportunities are highlighted for a better understanding of global health issues, unified efforts to fight the pandemic and mutual support for spiritual tourism development among Indians and Pakistanis. Policy implications suggest that post-COVID-19, public-private partnership is needed to cooperatively plan, develop, and promote religious tourism, build awareness, and cooperate for common resource management for economic benefits. COVID-19 could be a cooperative stimulus for peaceful change through bilateral trade, travel, and tourism plans, based on responsible cross-border tourism for India and Pakistan; to create a mutually beneficial South-Asian economic success story. © 2022 Dublin Institute of Technology. All rights reserved.
This article is licensed under Creative Commons License and full text is openly accessible in CUD Digital Repository. The version of the scholarly record of this article is published in International Journal of Religious Tourism and Pilgrimage (2022), available online at:
COVID-19, economic impact, India, Kartarpur, Pakistan, religious tourism, responsible
Haq, F., & Medhekar, A. (2022). The economic impact of COVID-19 on religious tourism to the Kartarpur Corridor. International Journal of Religious Tourism and Pilgrimage, 10(2), 36-46. doi:10.21427/k92h-2q53