Govt decides to connect tourist spots via air, rail, road links

Skardu Airport to be upgraded for international flights


Waqas Ahmed February 14, 2019
Skardu Airport. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: The federal and provincial governments have begun work on a comprehensive plan devised for the promotion of tourism in the country.

A joint committee comprising federal and provincial ministers and officers on the directives of the Prime Minister Imran Khan has also been formulated.

According to the federal government’s plan, the northern areas and the tourist spots in the four provinces will be connected via roads, rail and air links.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has assigned special tasks to the railway and Aviation Division and inter-provincial coordination ministries. The Aviation Division has decided to turn Skardu Airport into an international airport for the promotion of tourism.

According to the Aviation Division, a new runway and latest traffic control system will be installed at the Skardu Airport. An apron in addition to the new airport terminal will also be built.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has granted approval for the renovation of the Skardu Airport based on the report prepared by the technical team, the final approval of which will be received by the Civil Aviation Board.

The upgrading of Skardu Airport will be undertaken by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and the Pakistan Air Force (PAF). 60 per cent of the total cost will be paid by the CAA while the remaining will be paid by the PAF in installments.

CM gives nod to new tourist spots across Punjab

On the other hand, the tourist-friendly areas of Swat abound with beautiful scenery have returned to normalcy. Peace has been restored in the region after it had to bear the brunt of war, leading to the CAA to open the Saidu Sharif Airport.

A special team of the CAA has been constituted for this purpose. The airport will be upgraded on the committee's report after the board gives it approval.

On the other hand, work by the railway ministry on the proposed plan to ensure rail access to the tourist spots in Punjab, Sindh and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa is set to commence. According to the proposed plan, the Pakistan Railways will run steam engines and tourist trains for the foreign and local tourists.

According to the Pakistan railway officials, rail access to the Gandhara civilisation will be ensured and the railway track from Peshawar to Takh Bai will be restored to promote tourism. Safari trains with the sponsorship of provincial governments and private sectors will be run to the tourist sites. A tourist train from Attock Khurd to Peshawar will be inaugurated in the current month.

On the directives of the PM Imran Khan the provincial ministers for tourism under the Federal Minister for Interprovincial Coordination Fehmida Mirza have compiled their recommendations.

The joint committee of the provincial ministers has identified 20 new tourist spots which will be opened for tourists after making the necessary arrangements. The committee will present its recommendations to take practical steps to promote tourism at the new tourist spots to the PM.

All the provincial governments in light of the committee's recommendations will be bound to ensure the construction of roads and make the necessary arrangements before opening those spots for the tourists.

On the other hand, the PM has given the approval for the construction of roads in the tourist spots of Kaghan and Batagram. A budget of more than Rs11 billion in the development budget for the tourist spots of Hazara Division will be allocated in the financial year 2019-20, according to the proposed plan, the roads of Abbottabad, Murree, Galyat, Kaghan, Naran, Batagram and Manshera will be broadened and then new roads will also be constructed to make the tourist spot accessible for the tourists.

According to sources the federal government will reorganise the Pakistan tourism development corporation to promote tourism. Transferring property of PTDC worth more than 200 billion to the provinces is also being considered for which the PTDC has started working on behalf of the federal government.

The federal and provincial ministers and the coordination board consisting of the private departments have started working to promote tourism in the country.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 14th, 2019.

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