Floods leave tourism in tatters

People associated with tourism industry face losses in millions


Zulfikar Ali September 19, 2022
Preliminary report shows that overall loss in GDP growth would be 3.3% to 3.7% due to the floods. photo: file

BALAKOT:

As the country reels from apocalyptic floods, the tourism industry in Kaghan Valley has been badly affected.

People associated with the tourism industry are facing loss of tens of millions of rupees due to lack of tourists in the valley. Those involved in hotels, restaurants and jeep businesses have been badly affected by the floods caused by the recent rains.

Fortunately, in the Kaghan Valley, only the market built on the bank of the river at Mahandri was affected, while other places in the valley remained safe from the flood. However, after the floods, the splendor of various tourist spots of the valley has dimmed due to the decrease in the number of tourists, causing heavy losses to the tourism industry.

The tourist season in the valley begins in June and lasts until the month of November, however due to the extremely thin number of tourists in the month of August the current season is already wearing the look of November when only a handful of tourists are seen visiting the valley.

Naran Hotel Association has also offered a special discount package of 50% on room bookings and 25% on rent and food items for tourists in Naran. Seth Matiullah, the association’s president, says that he wants to tell tourists from all over the country that Kaghan Valley is the safest valley for tourists who can visit the valley without any fear.

According to a careful estimate, more than 50,000 people are employed in tourism activities in the valley and due to lack of tourists after the floods, a large number of people associated with the tourism industry have been facing unemployment for the past two months.

A couple of days ago, National Highway Authority (NHA) began working to break the lake formed near river Kunhar at Mahandri. River Kunhar and streams of Balakot were flooded owing to the continuous torrential rains which destroyed several connecting bridges and roads.

According to reports, recent floods formed a lake in Mahandri area of Balakot which pose severe threat to the nearby population and hotels. Previously, the flood relay in Manor Valley destroyed the entire infrastructure of the area including 18 shops and 3 hotels that were swept away by fast flowing water. The buildings of Mahandri Police Post, Mahandri High School, Mahandri Primary school and Madrasa Tahfeezul Quran have were also affected. Similarly, the business community suffered losses worth hundreds of millions of rupees.

Since the formation of the lake is posing the threat of severe damage all over again, former Federal Minister Sardar Shahjahan Yusuf has directed the concerned officials of NHA to resolve the crisis on an urgent basis.

Therefore, NHA machinery started working under the direction of GM NHA Shoaib Khattak and Deputy Director Javed Saifullah and released the water by breaking the lake in the river. The residents of the area expressed their satisfaction over the relief effort.

 

Published in The Express Tribune, September 19th, 2022.

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