PESHAWAR, Aug 09 (APP):The tourism sector in Pakistan has achieved tremendous growth during last one year; courtesy to PTI government’s new visa policy resulted in significant increase in religious, archeological and mountains tourism.
The visa initiatives of the PTI led government attracted influx of domestic and foreign tourists in the country, famous for lofty mountains peaks like world highest K-2, Nanga Parbat, lush green valleys, archeological and religious site and natural tourists resorts stretching from Kunjrab Gilgit Baltistan to port City of Karachi.
The PTI govt. decisions to grant visas on arrival to citizens of 96 countries and e-visa facilities to 175 countries have witnessed hundreds of thousands of tourists this year in all tourists destinations including Murree, Naran, Kaghan, Ayubia Malam Jabba, Swat, Madain, Chitral, Mardan, Taxila,Takht Bhai, Swat, Mehr Gharh, Harapa and Moenjodharo.
The government’s visas initiatives are attracting large number of tourists from Sri Lanka, China, South Korea and North Korea to visit Peshawa, Taxila and Swat museums where a rich collection of Bhudism were kept preserved.
As many as 20 new archaeological and tourists sites including construction of chair lift at Takhtbhai Mardan, Jolia Haripur and Budhkada Swat etc were identified.
Tourism, which was the most neglected sector prior to 2013, had witnessed massive turnaround during last government of PTI in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where the record number of projects and schemes were completed besides significant increase in development budget of tourism sector.
“Before PTI govt in KP, tourism was kept on 30th position in priority list in public sectors departments and corporations in term of funding and now it attained eight position, thus showing PTI’s priority for this key sector,” said Sajjad Hameed, General Manager, Tourism Corporation KP (TCKP) while talking to APP. “We have witnessed a record increase in foreign and domestic tourists this year in KP’s scenic Hazara and Malakand Divisions, thanks to PTI govt’s prudent tourism polices and new visa initiatives,” he said.
To bolster tourism and archeology, the KP government has decided to construct four new museums in different districts to conserve and protect precious antiques, artifacts and others primitive articles of Gandhara and other civilizations to attract foreign tourists besides archaeological, art, Buddhists, historians and architectural lovers.
The new museums are being constructed at Abbottabad, D.I.Khan, Kohat and Haripur districts where ancient articles, sculpture, coins, manuscripts, books, paintings of Gandara civilization, Greco-Buddhist, Persian handicrafts, Mughal and later periods would be preserved, said Muhammad Asif Raza, Incharge Peshawar Museum while talking with APP.
After completion of new museums, he said the number of museums would increase to 16 in Khyber Pakthunkhwa. Work on Abottabad museum has almost been completed and shortly to be opened for tourists whereas construction work on Dera Ismail Khan museum would be completed this year.
Land has been purchased for construction of Kohat and Haripur museums to be completed within two years. PTI Govt has spent about Rs 60 million on renovation and expansion of six museums in different districts including Peshawar Museum.
The PTI govt has constructed a state-of-the art Hund Swabi district near the site where Alexander the Great crossed Indus River in 327 BC. Hund is famous for Mehmood Ghaznavi’s invasion in 998 marking the beginning of Islamic era and the end of Gandhara Period. For the first time in history of KP, he said a conservation laboratory was established at Hund Museum where equipment would be soon provided.
Cultural Heritage Trail in Peshawar has been completed under which 500 meters long trail from ancient Ghanta Ghar to Gor Gathri has been renovated including centuries-old buildings, houses and shops besides establishment of a food street at Namak Mandi Peshawar to restore the original grandeur of Peshawar being home to 2000 years old civilizations.
The heritage trail starts at the historical Ghanta Ghar and passes through ancient Bazaar-e-Kalaan and primordial Mohallah Sethian. Mohallah Sethian has a number of beautifully architectural houses constructed by the members of wealthy Sethi family way back in 1880s. The tourists here enjoy traditional food like ‘Chappli Kabab, Namak Mandi’s special Bar B Que with Peshawari Qawa’ and culture together.
Completed at a cost of Rs301.5 million, the heritage trail project has immensely helped renovate and refurbish facade or outer appearances of 85 heritage buildings and structures of Mughal, British and Sikh period with a cultural and historical touch without compromising on its original art and architectural work.
As many as 1868 ancient houses, monuments and religious places were placed in protected list after completion of documentation process and no owner can bring any kind of changes in architecture, art or renovate these without approval of the government.
Six archeological sites in Swat including Amlok Dara, Barikot, Stupa at Saidu Sharif, Bhudkada, Godara,Panar, monuments at Chacha Younas Park in Peshawar were included in the protected list where even repair and constructions activities could not be allowed unless NOC was issued by government.
Sethi House at Peshawar has been purchased by the government keeping in view of its historical importance and opened for tourists. As many as 3000 artifacts, antiques and other precious articles including 900 of Gandhara civilization were displaced at Peshawar museum attracting tourists and foreign dignitaries from across globe.
The first ever KP Antique Act 2016 has been passed by PTI government, empowering the Archaeology Department to protect and conserve historical buildings besides countering menace of smuggling of antiques and artifacts in the province. The Department has planned to raise its own anti-smuggling antiques wing to take prompt action against smugglers.