ABBOTTABAD: Galliyat Development Authority (GDA) has asked the provincial government to take prompt measures to support tourism and hospitality sectors in Galliyat including the provision of interest-free loans, tax incentives, and protection of workers from unemployment.
The lockdown imposed by the government to prevent the spread of coronavirus pandemic, although necessary for saving lives, has caused colossal losses to tourism industry in Nathia Gali, Donga Gali and other tourist destinations in Galliyat, said GDA Director General Raza Habib talking to The Express Tribune.
Pakistan tourism destination
He said GDA has submitted a document making policy recommendations to the provincial tourism department which stated that restoring tourism sector should be the centre of policy dialogue and measures should be taken for the recovery of the economy.
Interest-free loans to hospitality and tourism companies be provided to prevent them from collapse and provide financial support to SMEs in tourism sector which are willing to introduce digital products.
Habib said the recommendations made to provincial tourism department for protecting the tourism industry in Galiliyat and the entire province will be submitted to chief secretary and chief minister for approval.
Tourism in Pakistan
He pointed out that currently hundreds of jobs are at stake in Galliyat and many small and medium enterprises (SMEs) related to tourism sector are at risk of closing their businesses, therefore measures should be taken to support tourism and hospitality .
He disclosed that hotel industry in the area alone has incurred an estimated loss to the tune of Rs60 million due to lockdown.
He further said that matching grants should be offered to the affected enterprises in tourism, food and beverage sectors and financial grants may be provided to workers of tourism and hospitality industry.
Responding to a query Habib said that they have tried their best to submit their best recommendations for the revival of economy in the area but these recommendations would be incorporated in the policy developed for entire province.
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He pointed out that GDA is in favour of encouraging existing businesses and asked the provincial government to make a complete sector analysis on the basis of last year's performance as baseline. “On the basis of this analyisis matching grant should be offered to affected enterprises in tourism, food and beverage sectors and financial grants may be given to protect the livelihood of workers in hospitality industry,” he said.
Similarly interest free loans be given to hospitality and travel and tourism companies as well as SMEs in tourism value chains to prevent them from collapse, official said adding that government taxes on tourism sector need to be waived for at least one year.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 10th, 2020.