Realising the significance of eco-tourism, the Sindh government has finally decided to develop opportunities aimed at the conservation of the environment, as well as an industry that carries great economic potential.
Projects pertaining to eco-tourism are expected to be launched in the province under a public-private partnership, starting with the popular Haleji and Keenjhar Lakes.
“We have started the process of hiring consultants in this regard”, said Sindh Tourism Development Corporation (STDC) Managing Director Muhammad Ali Khoso, who believes it will take four-to-five months to bring the initiative to completion. “A feasibility study is currently underway for launching the said projects at the two lakes,” he added.
Both of the lakes are situated in district Thatta. Haleji Lake is some 85 kilometers away from Karachi, while Keenjhar Lake is at distance of 122 kilometers from the coastal city. Per Khoso, both the lakes are conducive terrains for migrating birds in the winter season, while the Keenjhar lake is also a major source of drinking water for Karachi and Hyderabad.
Thousands of visitors from Karachi and Hyderabad visit these lakes every month, especially in the sweltering summers. Noticing the local tourist inflow, the provincial tourism department has also set up a number of tourist resorts and other facilities at different places along the watercourse. It is expected that the public-private venture will further boost eco-tourism in the region and allow for more sustainable alternatives.
According to Syed Mujahid Shah, a journalist-turned tourism expert, the province has huge potential for eco-tourism. Hailing gthe provincial government’s decision, Shah said that the joint venture of the government and private sector will increase opportunities in eco-tourism and attract millions of visitors from the country as well as all over the world in the years to come.
Shah said that there are various opportunities for eco-tourism in the province. Besides natural lakes and water ponds, Sindh has a range of mountains going from Karachi to Sewhan and Larkana to Tharparkar. “These could be developed as beautiful picnic points. Similarly, the province has the beautiful Indus delta and a vast sea-coast comprising forests of mangroves to attract visitors,” he added.
The journalist-turned tourism expert also believes that there are several natural habitats in the bustling city of Karachi, which too can be turned into avenues for promotion of eco-tourism. For example, he said, there is a Khirthar range of mountains around Gadap in Karachi. The same area has Thadho Dam, which hosts multiple green spots. “In Malir there are Damloti Wells, the first water supply system of the city as well as multiple lush green orchards.”
Besides eco-tourism, the province of Sindh, per Shah, also hosts various opportunities for religious tourism, which can attract a large number of visitors from near and far. “There are centuries-old temples from Sadh Belo. Similarly, there is the Shah Jahan Mosque and other religious places in Thatta that were built in the 17th century, all of which can be developed into a lucrative and environment-friendly tourist spots.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 19th, 2021.
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