MUZAFFARABAD: Seeing the big turnout of the tourists, The Prime Minister Azad Kashmir, Raja Farooq Haider Khan on Wednesday, 5 July visited Kohala entry point to check the arrangements and behavior of police officials with the passing tourists. On the occasion, Deputy Commissioners of three districts Muzaffarabad, Bagh and Poonch said under the directives of Prime Minister polite and people friendly police officials including women officers have been deployed to deal with tourists.
They said that measures of government produced a positive effect resulting in high increased number of tourists. Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK) government is also providing pamphlets totourists at all entry points of the area about necessary information.
Similarly, hundreds of tourists from all over the country have flocked to hill stations in a bid to enjoy the summer vacations and get away from the heat of the plains. Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) Managing Director Abdul Ghafoortold that a large number of tourists, especially domestic tourists, had been booking their hotels, motels and rest houses at hilly picnic spots such as Murree, Nathiagali, Ayubia, Bhurban Patriata, Abbottabad, Swat, Naran, Kaghan, Shogran, Rawalkot, Neelum Valley, and Gilgit-Baltistan. These areas are likely to receive huge number of local tourists this year. This is in stark contrast to previous years where tourists would shy away given the country’s law and order situation.
It is evident that the local tourism is picking the momentum, an encouraging development that will gladden the hearts of all our compatriots. This suggests that finally the fate of the tourism industry in Pakistan is taking a turn for the better. We must now move to put into place an enabling environment so that the industry can grow further. Tourism is always a good source of revenue for economically deprived areas and helps with local business and employment. But for it to thrive and attract international attention, it must be carefully regulated and monitored so that standards are maintained. Pakistan should now work on a practical tourism policy which encourages both local and foreign tourists to visit the different sites, which have a lot to offer. Not only should security be taken into consideration, an enabling environment should be created to facilitate the industry and its players. For this a first step would be to brainstorm with the local stakeholders after which some practical steps can be implemented to give impetus to the industry. The tourism development authorities should be allowed a freer hand and a bigger purse.
A combination of government and private sector initiatives will help the tourism industry stand on its feet and give the much-needed uplift to long suffering areas.