Managing Director Department of Tourism Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Junaid Khan has shown his optimism that only tourism sector could earn billions of rupees, if the tourism potential of the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is properly explored through development of requisite hospitality infrastructure and provision of easy road accessibility to the national and international tourists.
Talking to mediamen on Tourism sector which badly affected to COVID19. He said, spread of Covid-19 hit hard the tourism industry in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, as more than 70 percent tourism relates to KP. Thousands of people have lost their jobs and are facing financial hardships due to the restrictions imposed to contain the spread of COVID19. ‘Hundreds of hotels, motels, restaurants, rest houses were closed since March 18, he said, adding, ‘It has affected hotel industry, small businesses, daily wagers and transporters.’
He said last year more than 2.5 million local and foreign tourists visited Galyat, Hazara and Malakand divisions including Naran, Khaghan, Dir Lower, Dir Upper, Kumrat valley, Chitral including Kalash valley, Bamburit, Boni, the visit of the tourists to various festivity in Chitral district etc and if they spend a 1000 rupees, how much loss caused by COVID19 to the revenue actually.
He said thousands people purely relate to tourism and their basic earning and livelihood is from actually tourists visit. He said, there are thousands of waiters who were paid on daily basis in hotels, motels, restaurants, others including tourists guides, the ones providing horse-riding services, balloon shooting, coffee machines, running small shops in these areas like grocery shops, tent age, souvenir shops, tuck shops and small food huts, cabins and pushcarts were also bearing the brunt of COVID19.
He said looking after such loss, the KP Govt has been treated tourism sector as high priority sector in the KP Budget 2020-21, and significant allocations have been made for various new and ongoing projects. Sharing details, he said that after successfully launching two umbrella projects for roads development in Malakand and Hazara division worth Rs. 4400 million, KP Government now has included another project worth Rs. 2000 million for development of Tourism spots in KP with particular focus on Buner, Swabi, Kohat, Dir, Dera Ismail Khan, the entire Southern Districts, part of the recently merged districts and above all we included Tirah Valley as major tourist destination.
Junaid Khan disclosed that development of Chor valley in Batagram has been included in the budget under directions of Prime Minister Imran Khan with objective to open new tourist destinations in Hazara Division. He said the Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chief Minister KP Mahmood Khan have fully focused on promoting tourism sector because it would prove a back bone of Pakistan’s economy.
Junaid Khan, who is known for his competency, also served as DG Sport KP, disclosed that under Accelerated Implementation Plan (AIP) for merged districts, Rs. 3000 million have been earmarked for tourism development in Tira Valley Khyber District, Samana Orakzai, Parachinar Kurram District and various scenic spots in North and South Waziristan.
Certainly that would bring a revolutions to the country’s economy and that was actually the vision of the Prime Minister Imran Khan who foreseen such potential in the tourism sector, Junaid Khan said.
He said, under a high priority PSDP Plus initiative of the Federal Government, five tourism projects have been identified which can attract handsome international investments once province does their feasibility and master planning. Junaid Khan informed that Federal Government had asked KP govt to undertake feasibility cum master planning of five potential tourism promotion projects including:
1. Tourism Resort development at Koh e Suleman, Dera Ismail Khan
2. Sheikh Badin Tourism Resort
3. Chapri, Parachinar, District Kurram
4. Archeological cum Religious Tourism Heritage site at Takhtbai, Mardan
5. Garam Chashma, Chitral Lower.