Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday said that promotion of tourism was not possible without peace, stressing that foreign tourists would only come to Pakistan if they felt safe and secure here.
Talking to the media during a daylong visit to Naran, a tourist destination in the Kaghan valley of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa, Imran said that after eradication of terrorism the tourists’ influx had doubled. He added that the government would ensure implementation of bylaws to discourage haphazard construction.
“Unfortunately, our elders did not do justice to Pakistan,” Imran said. He said he had directed the provincial governments to draft laws on tourism promotion. “Many sports, including rafting, are being introduced to attract tourists,” he added.
“There is big scope for religious and historical tourism in the country [however], ensuring law and order is inevitable for the promotion of tourism, complimented by development of infrastructure and facilities like resorts and recreational activities.”
He said that the focus would be laid on both summer and winter tourism, to bring in revenue and create jobs. He added under the newly-introduced tourism integrated zones, the government would ensure implementation of bylaws to discourage haphazard construction.
Earlier, Prime Minister Imran launched several tourism and environmental protection projects. Speaking on the occasion, he said that with an eco-friendly infrastructure in place, Pakistan’s northern areas with their captivating natural beauty could become the world’s top tourist destination.
“A strict implementation of bylaws to ensure preservation of green cover and cleanliness of tourist spots can help Pakistan capitalise the true potential of tourism,” the prime minister said in his address to Tiger Force, the volunteer youth of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf for community service.
The projects included distribution of 550,000 biodegradable bags, setting up a waste collection system, delivery of motorbikes to the community river rangers, launching of emergency response service for tourists, tree plantation along the bank of Kunhar river besides breeding of trout fish.
Imran said promotion of sustainable tourism through laws to check littering and damage to trees in areas with increased influx of visitors could secure the fragile ecosystem. He directed strict compliance of bylaws to ensure cleanliness at tourist places and ensure stern action against the violators.
The prime minister said that Almighty Allah had blessed Pakistan with beautiful landscape with diversity, ranging from plains to mountains, and stressed that the best way to offer gratitude was to preserve the natural course of environment.
“I have explored the world, but found no match with the scenic beauty of Pakistan,” he said. “The future generations will be grateful to us for a clean and green Pakistan.”
He said the government’s ‘Clean and Green Pakistan’ initiative was about caring for the nature and encouraging people to avoid littering the public places and protecting trees. He expressed confidence that corrective measures in tourism sector would bring a revolution towards generating revenue.
He mentioned that Switzerland, half the size of Pakistan’s northern areas, was earning $80 billion from tourism compared with the latter’s total exports worth $25 billion. However, with right steps, Pakistan could tap the potential of tourism even more, he added.
He advised the residents and parliamentarians belonging to the Kaghan Valley to get engaged in maintaining cleanliness of their area to attract more tourists, which he said would be beneficial for the local economy.
The prime minister regretted that the trash was being thrown into the Kunhar river and urged the hotels to ensure proper waste disposal. He lauded the efforts of Hazara Commissioner Riaz Khan for working out a strategy to protect eco-friendly tourism in the Kaghan Valley.
The prime minister planted a Deodar tree along bank of Kunhar river under a project for protection against erosion and silting. He also distributed motorbikes among the river rangers, who would patrol by the river to curb illegal fishing.
By releasing a grown trout fish into the river, the prime minister inaugurated the ‘Destination Trout Trophy’ in which the people would be allowed to catch fish but to release immediately. The river rangers would also guide the people on trout fishing.
As part of a project to replenish mature brown trout in the Kunhar river, around 30,000 grown trout would be released in the river. Under the ‘Clean and Green Pakistan’ initiative, the prime minister kicked off a drive to distribute around 550,000 biodegradable shopping bags among the community.
A Tourist Emergency Response Service to provide first aid and other emergency services to the tourists across the 170 kilometre stretch of the Kaghan valley was also inaugurated. The Kaghan Development Authority will install all weather benches at Kunhar riverbank, Saif-ul-Maluk lake and Lulusar Lake.
The prime minister handed over the garbage collection, disposal machinery as well as mechanical broom for cleanliness and beautification of the tourist city.
Earlier, in a briefing, Hazara Division Commissioner Riaz Khan told the prime minister that the future projects included revival or Karakorum mountain trek, Tulip plantation, high-altitude marathon, establishment of fishing and aquatic school, besides a chairlift with its feasibility study in progress.
He also requested the prime minister for a Rs200 million grant for Kaghan Development Authority and rehabilitation of Korakorum Highway and N-15 to ensure smooth incoming and outgoing traffic flow to tourist cities.
Separately, Prime Minister Imran Khan said that the development of erstwhile tribal districts was the foremost priority of the present government.
The present government wanted complete inclusion of the citizens of former tribal districts in the national mainstream, he added.
The Prime Minister expressed these views while talking to the Members of National Assembly (MNAs) belonging to the erstwhile tribal districts including Gul Dad Khan, Gul Zafar Khan, Sajid Khan, Muhammad Iqbal Khan, Malik Fakhar Zaman Khan and Jawad Khan, who called on him here.
Minister for Religious Affairs Pir Nur-ul-Haq Qadri was also present in the meeting.
(WITH INPUT FROM APP)
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