‘Boycott’ campaign takes toll on Murree tourism

Published: May 14, 2018
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Drive broke out after reports of mishandling tourists surfaced on social media

Drive broke out after reports of mishandling tourists surfaced on social media

ISLAMABAD: The ongoing ‘Boycott Murree’ campaign in the home constituency of Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, coupled with the PM’s apparent apathy to respond to the situation, has mounted concerns of senior leaders of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz hailing from the hilly spot.

The development, the party circles believe, is feared to prove detrimental to PML-N’s vote bank in Murree ahead of the general elections with a little more than two weeks left till the government completes tenure on May 31.

Business activity has also seen a drastic decline in the backdrop of a general boycott of Murree by people from across the country. Recently, reports started surfacing on social media suggesting that tourist families were harassed, insulted, blackmailed and fleeced at the hands of area locals.

Some videos and photos doing rounds on different social networking sites showed tourists insulted, abused, and physically thrashed by some people who were alleged to be locals. In this backdrop, a  public call to boycott visiting Murree started circulating on Facebook and Twitter under the hashtag ‘Boycott Murree.’

As the campaign gained momentum, tourism and all its affiliated trades in Murree have seen a major setback. Some PML-N leaders whose families are running businesses in the hilly spot privately admitted that restaurants, hotels, vans, and shops have witnessed up to 70% decline in earnings. Sources said that senior PML-N leaders and notable figures from Murree have approached PM Abbasi to play his role in responding to the situation—by taking concrete steps to facilitate the tourists and allay their concerns.

However, the PM is yet to intervene which is causing resentment and outrage, it is learnt.

“He is the prime minister of Pakistan who has the responsibility of solving the problems of the entire country. Questions are being raised, what good his premiership is for when he cannot solve the problems of his own constituency?” said a PML-N leader, requesting anonymity.

“The month of May has never been so tough on Murree. In recent years, people in huge number tend to visit Murree before Ramazan and then after Eid. Ramazan is about to start but tourists are hardly to be seen. The Boycott Murree campaign is taking its toll and our leadership’s apathy is adding to the problem.”

Apart from Abbasi, Murree is also home to Punjab’s labour minister and PML-N’s provincial Secretary General Raja Ashfaq Sarwar and his brother PML-N’s provincial Joint Secretary Raja Attique Sarwar.

When approached, PML-N’s President in Murree Raja Daftar Abbasi admitted that tourism faced major setback due to the campaign. He, however, denied that tourists were facing high-level of harassment which led to them boycotting Murree.

“The issue is overly exaggerated and things are not what they seem,” he told The Express Tribune. “Why would the people of Murree, whose major source of bread and butter is tourism, ever want to disrespect the tourists? Why would they want to destroy their own livelihood? I admit there have been some isolated incidents involving the tourists and locals but this happens everywhere. When thousands of tourists throng a place at a time, an incident or two may take place—but this in no way can be termed as a systematic campaign to insult tourists. People of Murree are welcoming to tourists because they know their livelihood is attached to them.”

Similarly, Daftar Abbasi said owners of certain hotel chains in the tourist spots of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, in close proximity to Murree, are behind the ‘defamation’ campaign against tourism of Murree in a bid to attract business.

“They are trying to divert tourism business from Murree and are using ugly tactics for this purpose,” he claimed.

The regional President also said that the party’s local leadership in Murree takes the reports of harassment of tourists ‘very seriously.’ “I have held meetings with hotels’ owners, shopkeepers, cab drivers and everybody else involved in tourism and have asked them to show utmost respect and compliance to tourists who are our most valued guests and Murree has had a traditional reputation of warmly welcoming the tourists for decades—this must not change. And if there are troublemakers on our side, they shall not go unrewarded.”

Asked about PM’s alleged apathy towards the situation, he said, “We all are working on the directions of PM. You know, a lot is happing at national level and he (PM) is very busy taking care of things. We are all working under his leadership here.”

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Reader Comments (12)

  • Tayyab Saleem
    May 14, 2018 - 12:21PM

    Boycott…….. Murree…Recommend

  • Muhammad Azeem
    May 14, 2018 - 1:20PM

    This boycott is not caused by recent events or reports started surfacing on social media. People have been suffering for years. Its the power of social media that people are speaking their minds. And every one agrees to boycott because every one can relate to these violent incidents from Muree mafia.Recommend

  • Mahmood
    May 14, 2018 - 1:45PM

    After shooting at their own foot, now they are looking to the PM to resolve the situation. Why they misbehaved in the first place? typical, Pakistani behavior. PM should take action and punish all those first who misbehaved and then only people would believe that Murree is safe to go now.Recommend

  • Samand
    May 14, 2018 - 2:12PM

    Now people who don’t mind being

    insulted, abused, fleeced and

    harassed would go to

    Murree.Recommend

  • Khan muhammad
    May 14, 2018 - 2:36PM

    I can relate to the fact the people of murree by and large are crooks. They don’t just disrespect you but want to steal from you too. Continue the bycott until at least those identified in variou pieces of footage are identified and sent to jail which shouldn’t be too difficult. Recommend

  • ZAHEER
    May 14, 2018 - 3:27PM

    The sitting premier who cannot do anything for his own constituency then how will resolve the issues of the entire country, sorry to say Khaqan Abbasi is the most powerless prime minister of the country as everything is under control of Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Safdar who are actually running the government and not the Abbasi. As far as Murree’s boycott is concern this all happened due to negligence of local administration supported by locals who misbehaved with tourists, abused and even physically assault them. Now the social media has emerged as a watchdog for such incidents and playing its due role very actively therefore no one can hide the truth even Shahid Khaqan Abbasi or the PML-N’s ruling elite.Recommend

  • Hardliner
    May 14, 2018 - 3:38PM

    @Muhammad Azeem:
    You nailed it….!Recommend

  • sanaullah khan
    May 14, 2018 - 5:53PM

    @Muhammad Azeem:
    You told the truth my boi.Recommend

  • mas
    May 14, 2018 - 6:34PM

    I fully support this boycott as I have myself been the victim of the misdeed of the people of Murree. Also, not only Murree similar situation is being experienced in Nathiagali, Bhurban and adjacent areas. People should keep away from these place and boycott them also.Recommend

  • Azmat
    May 14, 2018 - 11:17PM

    I have recently (4 May 2018) visited murree stayed there for 3 days
    Their attitude toward visitors were not as guest or blessing, they were just want to tear our pockets and take out all money we have
    We have requested them to change your attitude toward tourist, but they are still very harshed people
    No price list, full time free economy
    They need to learn about hotel n guest management n hospitality n patients Recommend

  • Shakil Babur
    May 21, 2018 - 7:28PM

    So glad this boycott is now gaining momentum. For the last 5/6 years, we have been warning about their shameful treatment of tourists. On my various visits, I saw a relentless approach by local agents and hoteliers ripping off the tourists in the most disgusting manners. I had a few friends from aboard when I took them to Murree last summer and I was so ashamed the way they treated us and did not care at all about what those foreign guests may be thinking about how people are treated here. Good to see boycott is taking its toll on these monsters. Keep it up!! Recommend

  • Mahmood
    May 23, 2018 - 9:54AM

    @Muhammad Azeem: Well said … I live in Islamabad and I have been hearing the horrifying stories of Murree locals beating up the tourists in front of their families and children since 1980s.

    One of my friends was forced to pay one night charges for only viewing the hotel room and rejecting it. The hotel staff threatened him that if they don’t pay they will not be able to leave Murree. He had to pay the charges despite not staying in that hotel.

    Similarly I have seen the hotel agents on the bike. They’ll throw the hotel card in your car and keep following you until you stop at any other hotel. They they will start threatening you that he has burnt fuel for following you and you will have to stay in the hotel he is suggesting otherwise get ready for consequences. Recommend

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