THE plight of tourists in KP valleys is a stark reminder that successive governments paid only lip service to the promotion of tourism in the country.
In the face of hot and humid weather, people, from across the country thronged tourist destinations like Kaghan and Naran but media reports warned people not to proceed to the region in view of choked roads, lack of accommodation and excessive charges by hotels and transporters.
According to official estimates 0.7 million vehicles entered Kaghan valley during Eid holidays choking the roads and causing traffic jams in the scenic tourist site.
The plight of the tourists can be imagined by the fact that the Mansehra-Naran-Jalkhad road, which leads to Kaghan valley en route to Gilgit-Baltistan, remained choked during the first four days of Eid-ul-Azha and the situation on this strategic artery which is in a highly dilapidated condition remained the same on the fifth day.
Sharing their bitter experience, some tourists revealed they covered the distance in 12 hours, which could have taken just three hours in normal circumstances.
A majority of the visitors were forced to park their vehicles along roads and spend nights in them as no hotel accommodation was available. A large number of tourists were also left stranded in Kalash valleys of Chitral due to traffic congestion.
This, on the one hand, speaks volumes about domestic tourism potential and on the other hand, highlights absence of required infrastructure to cope with the influx of tourists.
This amounts to wasting opportunities for promotion of tourism that could have earned livelihood for thousands of families besides giving a boost to local and overall national economic activity.
A comprehensive and integrated tourism development plan needs to be evolved and implemented on a fast track basis if we are genuinely interested in tapping the real touristic potential of various regions.