Mansehra Motorway and Swat Expressway have unlocked the enormous potential of tourism in scenic northern areas of Pakistan’s KP province, as 2.7 million tourists visited these areas during the week-long holiday season following the annual religious festival, Eid-ul-Adha.
For decades, these areas, including Galiyat, Kaghan and Naran (accessible through Mansehra Motorway), and Swat, Kalam, Kumrat, and Chitral (accessible through Swat Expressway), have been attracting people of Punjab and Sindh provinces to flee from scorching heat in summers and enjoy snowfall in winters. But traveling to these areas was not easy before the construction of these two arteries of CPEC, so the number of tourists remained moderate in summers and very limited in winters. However, after completion of these roads, these areas not only witnessed massive tourism activity during last winter, but the inflow of tourists broke all previous records this summer, especially after the Eid holiday during last week.
According to the KP government, the tourists generated Rs66 billion worth of business activity in the province in total, adding Rs27 billion to the local economy in net terms. Over one million tourists visited Swat while the same number of tourists visited Galiyat, the KP government said.
Rahat, an employee of Mansehra University, said that Mansehra Motorway was the main reason behind the massive influx of tourists in their areas. He said that they were expecting even more tourists on and after August 14, the Independence Day of Pakistan. Rahat said that the government should provide facilities and expand local infrastructure to cater to the increasing number of tourists. He said that the tourist not only remained stuck on roads for hours during the past week but also faced a severe shortage of fuel, food, and hotel accommodation. He said that as CPEC had ensured hassle-free access to the tourism hot spots, it’s now time for the KP government to develop tourism into an industry.
On Wednesday, KP Chief Minister Mahmood Khan met Prime Minister Imran Khan and requested him to mobilize further resources for the development of tourism facilities in the province. On the other hand, a senior official of the CPEC Authority, while requesting anonymity, told Gwadar Pro that a comprehensive plan for the development of tourism infrastructure in KP and Gilgit-Baltistan will be presented before the Chinese side in the upcoming 10th meeting of the China-Pakistan Joint Coordination Commitment (JCC).
Source: China Economic Net