Stakeholders at a day-long consultative seminar on Thursday called for robust steps to develop tourism by collecting comprehensive data through surveys of tourism potential in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
The World Bank under the Economic Revitalization and Capacity Building for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (ERKF) project, Multi-donors Trust Fund (MDTF) and Tourism Corporation Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (TCKP) had jointly organsied the seminar at Nishtar Hall.
Secretary Sports, Tourism, Culture, Archaeology, Museums and Youth Affairs Department Muhammad Tariq was the chief guest.
Additional Secretary Tourism Babar Khan, Additional Secretary Industries Muhammad Asif Khan, TCKP Managing Director Mushtaq Ahmed Khan, Senior General Manager Syed Hayat Ali Shah, Task Team Leader of ERKF project Kiran Afzal, ERKF project director Munir Gul, Directorate of Tourist Services Director Muhammad Arabi and stakeholders from public and private sectors attended the seminar.
The speakers stressed the need for taking various steps to get feedback from the stakeholders of public and private sectors on the constraints faced by tourism sector in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Secretary Muhammad Tariq appreciated the efforts of organizers and MDTF for organizing the seminar and said that the KP government had put special emphasis on tourism promotion that has witnessed an unprecedented increase in tourist inflow in the province.
This, he said, had also led to increasing economic activity in the province and creating new employment opportunities for the local population.
The official said the government had plan to adopt a broader and integrated approach for sustainable tourism promotion in the province.
In his presentation, Additional Secretary Sports and Tourism, Babar Khan, said that robust development of tourism was driven by focused measures and availability of accurate and updated data.
The KP province, he said, lacked availability of reliable data on tourism sector, which was a major hindrance in making targeted policies, developmental plans and monitoring the implementation progress.
“There is no regular and updated information system in KP that may provide updated and comprehensive information about tourism statistics such as number of tourists, duration of stay, economic activities of tourists, tourism facilities, employment,” the official added.
He said that absence of required reliable data created the need to conduct a detailed baseline survey on KP’s tourism sector to generate the required information.
The official added that the KP government’s Economic Revitalization Project funded through Multi-donors Trust Fund will conduct a comprehensive, quantifiable and qualitative assessment and analysis of tourism sector in four tourist locations of KP, including Galiyat in Abbottabad district, Naran in Mansehra district, Kalam in Swat district and Kumrat in Upper Dir.
This study will also propose recommendations for sustainable tourism development with special reference to the four target tourist locations in KP.
Later, the participants were divided in five groups to discuss key issues faced by the tourism sector in KP and formulated recommendations for bringing improvements in the performance in the sector.
The key areas discussed included improvement of governance of tourism sector, workforce development and capacity building, tourism infrastructure and facilities, investment promotion in tourism including product development and marketing and cultural heritage and natural conservation.
The speakers in final session said that through the development and management of well-articulated tourism policy, tourism product designing, marketing strategies and public-private partnerships, the tourism sector in KP would contribute to the overall socio-economic development of Pakistan.
Secretary Industries Department Muhammad Asif in his closing remarks thanked all the participants for providing their expert input for the promotion of tourism in KP.
He said that KP was blessed with abundant tourism assets, including sites with scenic beauty, and sites of archeological, historical, cultural and religious significance.
This inherent comparative advantage, blended with the traditional hospitality of the people of KP, offers a value-added proposition to expedite sustainable socio-economic development in the province, he said.