PESHAWAR - The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has formally opened the government rest houses for general public by launching their paid reservation web portal.

The formal ceremony in this connection was held at the famous 'Retreat House' Nathiagali, Abbottabad district, which is one of the 15 rest houses handed over by different departments to Tourism Corporation Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (TCKP) and it was reserved for the use of the Chief Secretary Khyber Pakhtunkhwa since ages.

The present Chief Secretary, Amjad Ali Khan was the first who offered his rest house to TCKP for commercial use for tourists under commercialisation policy of the present Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government.

The chief guest of the function was Chairman Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Imran Khan while Secretary General PTI Jahangir Tareen, Provincial Minister Mushtaq Ahmed Ghanio, Advisor to the CM for Tourism, Amjad Afridi, Senator Mohsin Aziz, MNAs Sajida Zulfiqar and Dr Azhar Jadoon, Secretary Information PTI Naeemul Haq, Chairman DDAC Abbottabad, Sardar Muhammad Idrees, Chief Secretary Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Amjad Ali Khan, Secretary Tourism, Muhammad Azam Khan, MD Tourism Mushtaq Ahmed, Commissioner Hazara, Akbar Khan were also in attendance.

In the first phase, on June 25th last, a total of 15 rest houses were notified to be transferred to TCKP which included Retreat House Nathiagali, Karnak House, Police Rest House Nathiagali, Inspection Bungalow Murree, Forest Rest House Thandiani, Additional Cottage Nathiagali, Vendia Cottage Nathiagali, Pine Rest House Nathiagali, Forests Cottage Nathiagalai, Forest Rest House Dungagali, Forest Rest House Barian, TCKP Rest house Thandiani, European Cottage 29, 30 & 1.

TCKP had commercially made them operational from 3rd week of July 2015 and generated an amount of four million rupees from them.

The second phase of this included transfer of other lot of 13 rest houses to TCKP which included, Fan House Nathiagali, Speaker House Nathiagali, C&W House Nathiagali, Inspection Bungalow Nathiagali, Blue Pine Cottage Nathiagali, Shimla House Nathiagali, C&W House Nathiagali, C&W Rest house Changlagali, C&W Rest House Thandiani, Dugree Inspection Hut, Birangali Forest Rest House, Dak Bungalow Nathiagali, Changla Gali Rest house and GDA Rest House Khanaspur.

Speaking on the occasion Imran Khan said, "We are all gathered here at Retreat House, which was being previously used by Chief Secretary but he brought a unique change by handing it over to Tourism Department KPK. Similarly secretary C&W also voluntarily offered transfer of Raees Khana Nathiagali to TCKP."

He also said, "It seems that it's a small thing but in reality this is the philosophy that will pave way for making the new Pakistan through generating more money from them."

He said, "An independent authority will be set up which will manage these rest houses and it will not be through private leasing."

"The revenue to be generated from these rest houses will be spent on local development of Galiyat region," he said.

Imran said, "Governor House is another example which is a burden on tax payer. It is always empty and the Governor barely visits. We need to stop such practices, which will lead to a new tax culture."

He congratulated the Chief Minister Pervez Khattak and his team for materialising the idea of commercialisation of rest houses and implementing other reforms.

While talking to media the chairman said, "New resorts will also be constructed in the region to promote tourism."

He also said that new amendments have been initiated in the GDA, which will give it more autonomy and powers to bring a positive change, which will lead to more employment and revenues for the region.

On this occasion the chief minister launched a website of TCKP rest house.

The web portal is now open to public. This site includes not only booking of rest houses but also tour guide options.

The website also includes information of different rest houses, statistics, pictures and attractions like nearby scenic opportunities for tourists.