The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa tourism sector has the potential to earn billions of dollars by exploring new diverse tourist attractions.
Tourism is an important contributor to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s economy and job creation, and the number of domestic tourists travelling to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa keeps growing rapidly.
In order to tap this potential, the Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has embarked upon a strategic project to explore and develop tourism in merged areas. This project is striving to establish multiple tourism infrastructures in seven merged districts and six merged sub-divisions.
A comprehensive survey has already been conducted to identify major tourism development initiatives in these areas.
Under the administrative supervision of Secretary Tourism Shahid Sohail Khan, a Project Management Unit (PMU) has been established to materialize the goal of tourism promotion in the merged areas. With an objective to undertake cost cuttings, a state-of-the-art level lean structured PMU Unit oversees all developmental projects through active interaction with all stakeholders, duly executed by the relevant provincial engineering departments.
It has been ensured to create minimal financial and human resource liabilities for the government.
The project aims to develop state-of-the-art level Tourism Zones, tourist information centers, rest areas, picnic spots, tracks, camping pods and tourist rest houses in all tourist potential merged areas. Currently, projects worth Rs. 5 Billion are under execution on the ground with the active support of district administrations and field formations of the Pakistan Army.
Furthermore, tourism promotion festivals are being held in merged districts with the support of the District Administration and Pakistan Army to promote the indigenous tourism potential of the area. These festivals will be held as calendar events in the pattern of the Shandur festival so as to attract tourists to merged areas.
Moreover, visits of youth organizations from local universities and educational institutions etc. are sponsored and facilitated to visit these tourist destinations to promote and explore these areas.
Here it is pertinent to mention that the Provincial Government stands committed to exploring and developing maximum tourism avenues in merged areas.
Multiple mega initiatives including the construction of rest houses, restaurants, tourist information centres, construction of picnic spots and rest areas in merged districts have been approved under the Accelerated Implementation Program (AIP) and are about to be executed in due course of time. Once successfully completed, merged areas would not only be at par with other national tourist destinations but would be able to attract international tourists from the region and beyond.
The tourism policy is built around six core strategic thrust areas including tourism and allied infrastructure development; quality assurance; institutional and regulatory reforms; marketing and image-building; workforce development; and resource mobilization. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, the direct contribution of travel and tourism to Pakistan’s GDP in 2016 was Rs. 793 billion (equivalent to Rs. 4.0 trillion or US$14 billion in 2021), constituting 2.7% of the total GDP.
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