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PM’s special assistant wants KP to grab tourism opportunities

By Bureau report
August 01, 2020

PESHAWAR: Special Assistant to Prime Minister for Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development, Zulfikar Bukhari, has stated that 2019 was the safest year for Pakistan in the last decade and the country was declared the best tourist destination for 2020 which is a great achievement in terms of security.

“To take advantage of this, Pakistan needs to have a brand for Tourism. Pakistan is also hosting two major international tourism events is the next two years. The KP-Board of Investment & Trade has the biggest role to play to get the province ready to grab such upcoming opportunities in the Tourism sector,” he added. Zulfikar Bukhari, who is also Chairman, National Tourism Coordination Board, Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation was speaking during an online dialogue on “Opportunities in Tourism Sector in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Future Promotion Strategies in a Post Covid-19 Scenario.” He was the keynote speaker of the webinar. Hassan Daud Butt, CEO KP-Board of Investment & Trade, moderated the event. Other speakers were Abid Majeed, Secretary, Sports, Culture & Tourism, government of KP, Junaid Khan, Managing Director of Tourism Corporation KP & Additional Secretary Tourism Department, Kiran Afzal, a senior private sector specialist, World Bank Group, Koh King Kee, President, Centre for New Inclusive Asia, Malaysia, Dr Farrah Arif, Founder & CEO, EDTech Worx, Professor Song Zhihui, Sichuan University, China and Saadia Baber, CEO & Founder, Xperience Pakistan.

Hassan Daud started the session by giving a brief overview of the Tourism sector and the priorities and initiatives taken by the KP government in the sector. He said the government is working on policies to attract and facilitate tourists after Covid-19. The official acknowledged the contributions of donors, especially World Bank Group who are supporting KP government to promote tourism and make KP a tourism-friendly province. Secretary Tourism Abid Majid appreciated the support of the federal government and especially Zulfi Bukhari to KP in the Tourism Sector. He said that government is very keen to promote Tourism. Opening up of new rest houses is in progress to facilitate visitors with good quality of accommodation. The secretary said Tourism Facilitation Centres are being set up at different locations for facilitation. The government is also embarking on training for hospitality sector and tour operators following the standard operating procedures. Junaid Khan stated that Tourism is the top priority of the KP government, adding that to promote Tourism, better infrastructure to access the scenic beauty is the key and KP government is working on this. He said Rs 6 billion has been allocated to build infrastructure in Malakand and Hazara Division. Similarly, Rs. 3 billion has been set to build roads in sheikh Badin area.

The official stated that food tourism is another area on which the government is working. He stated that he believes in the synergy of tourism with culture, archaeology and Gandhara civilization. Kiran Afzal gave a presentation on trends in Tourism and also highlighted that keeping in view the Covid-19 situation, arguing that the reopening of sectors should be phased and regulated. She stated that a key area where KPBOIT can play an active role is Public-Private Partnership (for investment in the tourism sector. The official said the work has been done by the World Bank-funded project KP Integrated Tourism Development project and ERKP for tourist facilitation which includes installation of tourist carts and road and snow clearing machines in Galiyat, Waste management equipment in Galiyat, Naran and Kalam (garbage compactor) and installation of signboards in 4 districts at roadside and archaeological sites.

Dr Farrah and Saadia and others shared their insight into how international tourists can be attracted and what facilities need to be provided in order to do so. They also shared a few global practices to promote tourism in KP. Hassan Daud maintained that the session was very fruitful and rewarding and KPBOIT would have a series of such sessions in the future as well.