ISLAMABAD: More and more people have been booking hotels and rest houses in hilly picnic spots in northern parts of the country, according to the Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC).
According to PTDC, domestic tourism has increased manifold as picnic spots are receiving a record of people this year. The body links the surge in domestic tourism to improving law and order in these areas.
According a PTDC official, northern parts of the country including Murree, Nathiyagali, Ayubia, Bhurban Patriata, Abbottabad, Swat, Naran, Kaghan, Shogran, Rawalkot, Nelum Valley, Leepa and Gilgit-Baltistan have been witnessing a surge in domestic tourism.
The official said that these areas were likely to receive 50,000 to 60,000 local tourists this year due to prolonged Eid holidays and summer vacations. Picnic spots including Abbottabad, Swat, Naran, Shogran and Kaghan were likely to receive 30,000 to 40,000 domestic tourists during Eid holidays, while they normally receive 10,000 tourists each during the summer.
“Summer vacations are another factor encouraging domestic tourists to plan their trips to the beautiful hilly areas of northern Pakistan,” the PTDC official told The Express Tribune.
“Besides PTDC rest houses, private tour operators, hotels, motels and guest houses are receiving record booking orders from domestic tourists this year,” the official said.
Last month, PTDC also launched a seasonal bus service between Rawalpindi and Naran to promote domestic tourism. The official said that both foreign and local tourists could avail the bus service for just Rs1,500 and the travel time is eight hours.
The official said that PTDC motels are spacious enough to accommodate a large number of people and its Naran motel has 60 rooms, which is situated on the bank of Naran River. “The Naran valley is very pleasant and peaceful, which attracts a large number of tourists every year,” the official said.
According to the official, the PTDC offered 40 per cent discount on accommodation during this Ramazan, which attracted more domestic tourists and an increase of 20 per cent was witnessed this year.
The official said that Rawalkot, Nelum Valley, Leepa and other parts of Azad Jammu and Kashmir have also been attracting a large number of locals over the last couple of years. “This year too, these areas are expecting more domestic tourists till the end of August,” said the official.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 18th, 2015.