Peshawar - 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 were 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 KP 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.

World famous Saiful Malook lake in Manshera, which is known for fairy tales of the Persian prince, Saiful Malook and fairytale Badri Jamala in vicinity of Malika Perbath mountains besides Ansoo lake in upper Naran and Mohu Dhand lake in Swat were leaving lasting imprints on visitors’ memories.

Like others developing countries, the rural economies of Pakistan is largely depended 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. 

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.

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.

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 was 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.

The KP 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.

The 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.