Swat - Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Senior Minister for Tourism and Youth Affairs Muhammad Atif Khan has said that there are two types of tourism in the world, related to places of scenic beauty and historic interests, and the people of Swat are fortunate enough that there are plenty of both these tourist attractions.

“There is good news for the Swatians that great time has also come for them in respect of tourism boost as tourists are now eyeing Swat to visit and explore, which will open new doors of employment and prosperity in the area,” he added.

He expressed these views during the visit to Buddhists’ relics and stupas at different locations in Swat. The visiting Swiss Ambassador Thomas Kolly and Chairman District Development Advisory Committee Swat Fazal Hakim Khan also accompanied him on the occasion.

The Swiss ambassador, while appreciating the archaeological sites of Buddhism, said that he became a great fan of both the scenic and ancient places and the hospitable people here.

Atif Khan said that unlike the past rulers, the PTI government has understood the tourism industry and importance for the first time in history the province.

He said that for the first time we have scientifically developed all the existing tourist and historical places and are exploring new areas. The search has been started and so far 20 new crucial places have been identified, and will now open them for tourists on priority basis.

Development funds of Rs500 million have been allocated initially for the purpose, he revealed.

He further clarified that his government will not have to open hotels and other boarding and lodging facilities for the tourists, but this task will be given to the private sector, while the government will be only providing infrastructure and basic facilities for the purpose. He said that in addition to the discovery of new tourist destinations in Swat and other areas of the province, including Gabin Jaba, ski resorts will also be established.

“Swiss International and many other foreign companies of the world tourism-management repute have approached our government for the purpose,” he added.

To monitor and standardise all such matters, and to ensure maximum tourism facilities, the provincial cabinet has recently approved the establishment of KP Tourism Authority which will be later given regular legal status through the provincial assembly, he further revealed.

Referring to the importance of archaeological sites and historical ruins of Mahatma Gotham Buddha, he wondered that for an exhibition in Switzerland last year, he took a statue of Buddha along with his provincial delegation. There came monks from Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Thailand and other parts of the world, including the Great Buddhist monk from China, to see this Buddha statue and pay their respect.

The visit of Ambassador of Switzerland to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Swat is part of the same series, the importance of which can be thoroughly assessed by the presence of historical places and archaeological sites, he added.

The senior minister said that it is now high time for boost of tourism in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa rather all over the country.

“The time will soon come when maximum foreign tourists will travel here that might be several times more than Switzerland in both of the tourism sectors,” he reaffirmed.

It will greatly enable us to increase job opportunities and strengthen our national economy by earning precious foreign exchange, he concluded.