CHITRAL: The hospitality sector of Chitral has noticed that reduction in the number of PIA flights to Chitral from Islamabad by more than half and selection of wrong timing for the flights leading to their frequent cancellation have adversely affected the influx of foreign tourists.
Local tour operators and hotel owners told that the number of tourists to Chitral had dropped to the lowest level over the years due to unavailability of PIA flights in five days of the week.
They told that in 1980s the number of foreign tourists was at its maximum when the national flag-carrier used to operate three flights a day and an additional one on need basis.
The tourists started declining in direct proportion to the number of flights when these were reduced to two and one per day, and finally to the existing only two flights a week on Fridays and Saturdays.
It is said that in mountainous areas like Chitral the morning time is more airworthy than the afternoon when the clouds started developing with each passing moment. It is bit surprising that the timing of Chitral flights had been changed to afternoon, leading to their frequent cancellations.
The selection of weekdays, Fridays and Saturdays, for the two flights is inappropriate as one has to wait for five days if the flight is cancelled while the tourists have very limited time at their disposal.
The tourists coming to northern areas of the country for mountaineering and sightseeing in hilly areas get diverted to Gilgit Baltistan due to availability of daily two flights each for Gilgit and Skardu.
It was the view of Chitralis that it seemed that deliberate efforts were being made by certain circles in the centre to divert the tourists and mountain expedition teams to GB though Chitral was known as the ‘paradise of mountaineers’.