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Senior minister Atif says he sought tourism portfolio by choice

By Bureau report
August 29, 2018

PESHAWAR: Newly appointed senior minister Mohammad Atif Khan has said he sought the portfolio of tourism as it was an ignored sector having huge potential in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for creating jobs and generating economic activities.

When asked by The News as to why he opted for tourism after having served as the minister for education and power and energy in the previous Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government in the province, Atif Khan argued that his party leader, Prime Minister Imran Khan was also interested in promoting the tourism sector and developing about four new tourist resorts in the country.

“People seek C&W and other prized portfolios. I chose Tourism, Sports, Youth Affairs, Culture and Archaeology even though its budget is less. We can quickly create jobs in tourism sector, particularly for the youth who are loyal supporters of PTI,” Atif Khan said.

He said a lot can be done in sports also by developing playgrounds under the PTI policy and providing facilities to talented players.

Explaining that better law and order situation and development of infrastructure such as access roads, water and electricity are crucial for promoting tourism, Atif Khan said the government has to facilitate the private sector to attract tourists. “There is need for an integrated approach for promoting tourism. The forest department, local communities and other stakeholders all have to play their roles in developing the tourism sector,” he added.

The senior minister pointed out that three to four tourist resorts could be developed in the province to attract more tourists. He said the potential of white water rafting and other tourist attractions could be exploited. “Tourism is the fasting growing sector in the world. Many countries including Thailand, Nepal and Sri Lanka depend on tourism for job creation and revenue generation,” he maintained.

When reminded that no education minister had been named in the 15-member KP cabinet and whether the seat was kept vacant for him, Atif Khan said he had proposed Taimoor Saleem Khan Jhagra’s name as the education minister. “However, I won’t be able to refuse if Prime Minister Imran Khan asks me to again run the education ministry along with tourism,” he quickly added.