KPK Government Boosts Poverty Alleviation Through Domestic Tourism

PESHAWAR, Nov 01 (APP): The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Government has accelerated work on a multi sectoral plan to alleviate poverty and generate employment opportunities for people especially in rural areas through promotion of domestic tourism in the province.

Under the plan, work on renovation and refurbishment of historic buildings and tunnels have been expedited to promote domestic tourism imperative for alleviation of poverty and generation of employment opportunities especially for people of rural areas.

Latifur Rehman, Spokesperson, Sports, Tourism, Archeology and Youth Affairs Department told APP on Sunday that promotion of tourism was a cornerstone of KP Government policy and special intiatives were taken by his department to promote domestic tourism in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa He said Federal and KP Governments have joined hands to explore hidden tourism potential of the province before world.

Latifur Rehman said the Ministry of Climate Change, Islamabad has beautifully restored the British era way tunnel connecting two valleys ie Ayubia and Nathiagali near Ayubia National Park in Abbottabad district after its discovery and opened it from both sides for tourists and people. This tunnel of colonial era was discovered in 1891 and opened for tourists and local residents after its complete renovation and refurbishment work. To promote domestic tourism, he said the KPK Directorate of Archeology and WAPDA have preserved the historical rock carvings at Shatyal in Upper Kohistan district.

“The joint efforts of both organizations had saved these rock carvings from being submerged in water.”

The spokesperson said developmental works such as fencing, establishment of open air museum and tourist information centre were initiated with financial assistance from Dasu Hydropower Project.

“These are 1,800 years old rock carvings on Karakurum Highway (KKH), the ancient silk-route connecting Pakistan and China at Khunjrab border”, he said.

Tourists, Sikhs, Buddhists, traders and merchants from China and Central Asia use KKH to see Gandhara and Indus Civilizations in Pakistan before moving to India and Afghanistan. All this means that the concept of CPEC was conceived almost 2000 years ago and this mega project under China One Belt one Road (OBOR) initiative has further strengthened socioeconomic, cultural, economic and industrial connections between the two brotherly countries.

He said Pakistan is blessed with awesome natural valleys, ancient architectural buildings and home to about 2,500 BC ancient civilization offering plenty of opportunities to domestic and foreign tourists to explore its hidden tourism treasures.

It offers great attractions for domestic tourists to enjoy waterfalls and snowfalls in breathtaking Nathiagali, Ayubia, Dongagali, Thandyani in Abbottabad, Naran and Kaghan in Manshera, Bahrain, Kalam and Malam Jabba in Swat district besides Komrat valley in Upper Dir and Chitral during summer and winter seasons besides a land of K2, a second highest mountain of the world attracting mountaineers and adventure sports lovers from across the world.

World famous Saiful Malook lake in Manshera, which is known for fairy tales of the Persian prince, Saiful Malook and fairytale Badri Jamala, in the vicinity of Malika Perbath mountains, besides Ansoo lake in upper Naran and Mohu Dhand lake in Swat are leaving lasting imprints on visitors’ memories. Like other developing countries, the rural economies of Pakistan is largely depend on agriculture and domestic tourism due to its great scope in terms of generation of employment opportunities for labour workforce and people besides poverty alleviation.

Following lifting of COVID19 lockdown restrictions in August, he said a record number of tourists visited Khyber Pakhtunkhwa mostly its Malakand and Hazara Divisions. Latifur Rehman said around 2.681 million tourists visited KP during August 13, 2020 to September 30, 2020. He said over 1.718 million tourists visited Abbottabad including Nathiagali, Thandyani, Kaghan, Naran and Saiful Malook lake and 0.664 million in Swat during the said period.

These tourists have mostly visited scenic Naran, Kaghan, Nathiagali, Thandyani, Saiful Malook and Ansoo lakes due to improved roads infrastructure and tourism related facilities including camping pods established by PTI Government to facilitate tourists. A project regarding establishment of a chairlift at Naran Manshera would be revived and work on its technical designs would start soon. Upon completion, flow of domestic tourists at Naran and Kaghan would be significantly enhanced and load on Malam Jabba and Ayubia chairlifts would be reduced.

He said work is in progress on the establishment of tourism facilitation centres (TFC) and rest areas in Abbottabad, Swat and Mansehra. The spokesman said KP Tourism Department is working on an inclusive plan to develop picnic spots in the vicinity of five small dams including Chatri dam in Haripur, Tanda dam in Kohat, Kundal dam in Swabi, Jalozai dam in Nowshera and Jhangra dam in Abbottabad and initiated process in this regard.

He said about 100 kanal land would be required for developing picnic spots at Chatri dam, adding 50 kanal land of irrigation department is available while 50 kanal is a private land on which section IV has been imposed. Similarly, 100 kanal land of Irrigation department at Tanda dam has been identified and 70 kanal land owned by Irrigation department is available at Kundal dam for establishment of picnic point.

In Jalozai dam, 150 kanal private land is available and Deputy Commissioner Nowshera has been requested to impose section 1V for establishment of picnic spots. Regarding Jhangra dam, the official said 120 kanal private land is available and deputy commissioner has already imposed section IV for acquiring it for developing tourism spots. Irrigation department has been approached to transfer 50 kanal land at Chatri dam, 100 kanal land at Tanda dam and 70 kanal at Kundal dam to KPK Tourism Department for establishment of picnic spots, he said.

Latifur Rehman said construction work on access roads to tourists’ sites is expedited and work orders for construction of access roads in at prime tourists’ areas in Hazara and Malakand divisions issued. KP Impact Challenge Program (KPICP) has been completed under the youth development package. Under this project, five Jawan Marakiz (youth centres) had been established and issue of land acquisition for establishment of remaining 15 Jawan Marakiz had been taken up with the concerned deputy commissioners.

Geo-mapping of tourists’ sites would be completed within the timelines besides work on feasibility studies on 10 mega tourists projects for investment were accelerated. The spokesperson said Integrated Tourism Management Plan 2021 is under development besides tourism activities calendars for summer and winter seasons has been developed. He said Ansoo is a beautiful lake of Pakistan where adventure sports including trekking and mountaineering could be developed on modern lines.

A mega Cable Car Project between Upper Dir to Lower Chitral estimated cost Rs32 billion have been planned and would be completed with assistance of World Bank. Through Cable Car, the adventure sports lovers and domestic tourists would enjoy beauty of famous Katora Lake, Saidgai Lake, Zakhana Lake, Dabai Lake, Shahzor Lake and Kashkin Lak in Dir Upper district. At least 11 Integrated Tourism Zones (ITZ) would be established under a World Bank project worth $70 million to promote tourism in KPK.

KPK Government has planned a comprehensive programme to promote tourism in merged areas and Rs3 billion were allocated under Accelerated implementation Program (AIP) for development of tourism sites there. These AIP projects have been submitted to the Planning and Development department and construction work on tourism spots in merged areas would start next year. Federal government has been approached to include construction of two bridges on Peshawar-Landikotal railways’ route in PSDP for revival of Khyber Train Safari under multiple tourism plan.

Funds for Safari train that would be run between Peshawar-Takht Bhai Mardan and Peshawar-Attock were approved and the project has taken up it with Pakistan Railways and work on it would commence soon after permission of Federal Government. He said Ali Mardan Villa, a unique heritage building of Mughal era located on Fort Road Peshawar, has been restored and reopened for tourists. ‘City Tour’ programme under KP Culture and Tourism Authority (KPCTA) has recently been arranged for tourists and their families to explore historical archeological sites and buildings in Peshawar.

The tourists took keen interest in about 3000 ancient articles including 900 artifacts and antiques of Ghandara civilization besides antiques, sculptures, weapons, dresses ancient books and status of Buddhism besides jewelry, Kalash effigies, inscriptions and paintings of Mughal, Sikh and British periods preserved in Peshawar Museum. Tourists also visited Mughal era Mohabat Khan Mosque, Chowk Yadgar, Gor Gathri, Sethi House, Heritage Trai and Namak Mandi besides enjoyed the traditional music and cuisines during the trip.

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