ISLAMABAD - National Tourism Coordination Board (NTCB) Chairman Sayed Zulfikar Abbas Bukhari Wednesday said the federal government had chalked out a comprehensive plan for tourism sector’s uplift in Gilgit Baltistan (GB) as it would usher a new era of development and prosperity in scenic valley.

Addressing a public meeting in Skardu, he said ten recreational areas had been identified for setting up tourism zones in the GB. The feasibility report of four zones had already been finalized while the rest of them expected to be completed by the next month.

He said the tourism zones spanning over 100 kilometers area would be established in various localities including Hunza, Diamer, Ghizer, Shigar and Skardu with quality restaurants, tourism police and proper road infrastructure.

Zulfikar Bukhari, who also holds the Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development portfolio, said the initiative was meant to create a lot of employment opportunities for the people of the GB. He said the GB-based Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) hotels would be transformed into state-of-the-art facilities to boost domestic and foreign tourism in the country by offering dining and accommodation facilities to the tourists at par with international standards.

Mentioning the tourism authority created in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by the provincial government, he said efforts were afoot to set up such authorities in Punjab and the GB on same pattern for reforming the tourism sector.   

He also informed the GB dwellers about the federal government’s plan of setting up vocational and technical training institutions in the area to increase skilled workforce by imparting skills to the youth in the high tech and traditional trades.

Zulfikar Bukhari said his ministry would take initiatives to send maximum number of youth abroad for foreign employment.

He said mountaineering and trekking club, and museum were among other initiatives under the comprehensive plan formulated for uplifting tourism sector in the GB Zulfiakr Bukhari criticized Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari for his party’s bad governance in Sindh.

He believed that Bilwal could not ensure development of the GB as he even could not uplift the living standards of his constituency despite winning elections from there.

He said Bilwal was leading the GB people into a blind alley as he did in Sindh. 

He assured that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, after coming into power, would make all-out efforts to remove sense of deprivation from the people of GB. 

“It is only Prime Minister Imran Khan who will grant provisional provincial status to the GB,” he maintained.