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    Ecotourism: A vital source of KP needs Govt patronage to generate employment, provide better environment to tourists in summer

    Ecotourism: A vital source of KP needs Govt patronage to generate employment, provide better environment to tourists in summer

    MALAM JABBA (APP): Known for mesmerizing natural beauty, snow-clades mountains peaks and lakes, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is a unique province of Pakistan with plenty of tourism sites if properly devoloped could generate jobs opportunities for youth, bolstering rural economy and beat the sizzling heat.

    The lush green Khanspur, Donga Gali, Bagnotar in Abbottabad, Babusir top, Malaika Perbath, Dodipath and Anso lakes in Mansehra, Mahudhand lake and Gabryal mountains velley, Jaz Banda and Malam Jabba in Swat, Kumrat valley in Dir Upper and Chitral are most suited for ecotourism and adventure sports.

    Besides these scenic valleys, rich cultural heritage of primitive era, and historical significance, the province offers a diverse range of attractions for ecotourists, mountaineers, adventurers, archaeologicalists, and culture lovers from D I Khan to Swat and Chitral to Waziristan.

    Tourists from other districts of KP and provinces thronged to Malam Jabba in Swat to enjoy its pleasant weather on weekends.

    Professor Ehtisham Qaiser, a resident of Nowshera district told APP that he love the scenic beauty of Swat and every year in summer vacations, he along with his five other friends enjoy one week long tour to Kalam and Malam Jabba to enjoy its pleasant weather.

    “We hired a rent a car and take rooms in private hotel and then enjoy the whole week at scenic Malam Jabba and Kalam with friends, ” he said.

    He said Swat’s trout fish, river rafting, snowfall and adventure sports features make it unique.

    The tourists along with families could easily come here to spend some time in its relaxed environment due to better roads connectivity and tourism police before exploring the nearby tourists destinations.

    “KP is the land of tourism. Ecotourism spots are being developed at premises of small dams include Tanda dam Kohat, Chatri dam in Haripur, Naryab Hangu, Kundal Swabi and Chalgoza Abbottabad to promote day-long families tourism commonly known as ecotourism and provide relatively cooler weather to residents of these areas during summer,” said Hayat Ali Shah, General Manager, KP Tourism and Culture Department while talking to APP on Sunday.

    He said the PC-1 of Chatri, Naryab and Tanda dams tourism sites were completed and practical work to start soon.

    Under an Ecotourism Project, he said that camping pods were established at Sharan near Saiful  Malook lake, Gabeen Jaba Swat, Mahaband Buner-Swabi, Allai Batagram, Bamburait Chitral, Tandyani Abbottabad, Bisigram Swat, Yakhtangi Shangla, Saheed e Sir, Malka Swat and Sheikh Badin DI Khan.

    “Bishigram, Shran, Yakhtangi, Shaheed e Sir and Malk camping pods have already been opened for tourists while the remaining pods would be shortly opened after completion of renovation works.”

    “Each pod has two to four beds for families, a wash room and a small kitchen,” he said, adding Rs3500 to Rs5000 per day/night stay was being charged against Rs12,000 to Rs15,000 per room by a private hotels at Khagan, Naran and Galiyat valleys.

    As many as 10 more camping pods at Jargo and Sulatanr in Swat, Lashkargha Broghal Valley and Surlaspur Shandor valley Upper Chitral, Kumrat velley in Upper Dir, Laram Top and Shahi Bin Shahi in Lower Dir, Lilowani Alpuri in Shangla  Samanah Top in Orakzai/Hangu and Kalam Swat were planned.

    One of the key initiatives that the government has undertaken is to increase the presence of police personnel in tourist spots. This has made tourists feel safer and more secure, which has resulted in an increase in the number of ecotourists and adventure  sports enthusiasts visiting the province. 

    Several initiatives, including the establishment of a tourist police force have been launched by the KP Government to facilitate tourists, he said, adding tourism police in Hazara and Malakand divisions were already made operational.

    The tourist police force comprises well-trained officers equipped to handle any situation that may arise while influx of tourists are visiting the northern KP to beat sizzling heat.

    These officers are fluent in several languages, including english, to make communication with foreign tourists easier.

    The government has also launched a mobile application called the “Tourist Safety App,” which enables tourists to quickly and easily contact the tourist police in case of an emergency.

    Furthermore, the government has invested heavily in improving the infrastructure in the province, including the road network, transportation, and accommodation facilities. 

    A road from Maidan to Bishigram lake is being constructed and jeep track at Kandal lake has already built,” said spokesman of KP Culture and Tourism Authority while talking to APP.

    The government has also improved the road network, making it easier for tourists to access remote and less explored areas of the province.

    The construction of new hotels, resorts, and rest houses has made it easier for tourists to find suitable accommodations in these picturesque places.

    The efforts made by the government to promote tourism have not gone unnoticed. Tourists are now returning to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in droves, and the province is once again becoming a popular tourist destination during hot summer.

    According to spokesman of tourism department, the number of tourists visiting Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has increased by more than 100 percent in recent years. This increase in tourism has not only boosted the economy of the province but has also helped to change the perception of the region.

    The government’s proactive measures to ensure the safety and security of tourists have instilled confidence in both local and foreign tourists. 

    The government’s initiatives have shown that with the right policies and measures in place, it is possible to make KP a hub of international tourists.

    The establishment of a tourist police force, an increase in security personnel in tourists spots, and the improvement of infrastructure have contributed to the increase in number of tourists visiting the province.

    Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Culture and Tourism Authority (KPCTA), in collaboration with relevant departments have recently hold a three-day “Jashan-e-Baharan” festival in Kharasha-Khwa Stori Khel at Orakzai District to promote ecotourism in the province.

    KP Tourism Authority spokesman, Saad Bin Owais said the influx of local tourists have increased in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as evident of three-day of Eid ul Fitr wherein 86,000 tourists visited various tourists’ destinations of the province.

    He said that 37,885 tourists’ group visited Naran Kaghan, 25,268 Galiyat, 17,000 went to Malam Jabba, 4,549 visited Kalash and Garam Chashma in Chitral, 1,281 visited Kumrat valley in Swat, and 155 went to Mastuj.

    Muhammad Ali Syed, General Manager, Tourism and Culture Authority said that waterfalls of Lamchar, Sajkot, Noori, Chajjian Haripur, Jarogo Swat, Lanchar Dir and Umbrella Abbottabad were being developed to promote ecotourism. 

    To reduce tourists’ load at Galiyat, Kaghan, Naran, Kalam, Malam Jabba and Dir, jeepable tracks was being constructed in 15 areas with an estimated cost of Rs500 million.

     KP government has announced construction of Integrated Tourism Zones (ITZs) at Ghanool Mansehra, Mankiyal Swat, Madaklasht Chitral and Thandiyani Abbottabad with assistance of the World Bank.

    ITZs of Ghanool Mansehra would be established on 59.6 acres, Mankiyal Swat on 29.5 acres, Madaklasht on 540 Kanal and Thandyani on 640 Kanal of land respectively. 

    As a pilot project, the Govt has decided to first develop Ghanool with a proposed cost of Rs5.5 billion and Mankiyal with an estimated cost of Rs2.9 billion.

    The pre-qualification bids of Mankiyal and Ghanool ITZs would soon be awarded for which rules and regulations were being prepared and to be completed in two years on the patterns of ITZs of Malaysia and Indonesia.

    These ITZs are expected to create 200,000 direct and indirect job opportunities and USD 2.8 billion investment.

    Similarly, tourism spots, jeep tracks and roads to link waterfalls of Abbottabad, Haripure and Mansehra were being developed with an estimated cost of Rs2200.

    Feasibility of Cable Car project to be started from Dir Upper to Madaklast Chitral has been completed and would be financially supported by the World Bank through Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Integrated  tourism project (KITE).

    About 19 PTDC hotels/motels including at Gharam Chesma, Pir Maflasht,  Boni, Kalash in Chitral, Oshu Kalam, Mankiyal, Saidu Sharif, Miandum  in Swat, Balakot Mansehra, Ayubia Abbottabad were opened for tourists.

    Four colonial era tracks’ development including Thandyani-Nathiagali having 8, 200 feet height, 40km length and 1500 old trees belt, Thandyani-Biringali track, Dagri Bangla-Meera Jani-Nathiagali track and Kaghan- Mahnoor track starting from Shinkyari to Kund Bangla and onward to Shaheed Pani-Nadi Bangla to Musa Ka Musallah were in pipeline.

    These pro tourism measures would help make Khyber Pakhtunkhwa a hub of domestic and foreign tourists by making positive effects on its economy and generate employment opportunities for youth.

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