Tourism thrives post lockdown as thousands flock to northern Pakistan

Staff Reporter

ISLAMABAD: The coronavirus-hit tourism sector of the country got a much-needed boost during the past week as tourists swarmed in from all over the country to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s cooler tourist resorts to have fun.

The government recently reopened the tourism industry which was welcome news for millions in Pakistan who had to stay indoors for the past five to six months after provincial governments imposed lockdowns to curb the virus from spreading.

In the post-lock down situation this year, the trend of the last 10 days showed that the inflow of tourists in KP has posted an almost 100%  growth, with an average of 50,000 tourists visiting the northern areas of the country each day as compared to the 25,000 in the corresponding period.

However, there is another side of the picture. As tourists continue to arrive at the tourist locations in large numbers, fears of a second wave of the coronavirus have started to hover as people exhibit irresponsible behaviour towards the precautionary measures. Many were found ignoring the SOPs and violating social distancing rules, not wearing masks and not using hand sanitisers.

The Kaghan Development Authority reportedly imposed a smart lockdown in various areas the other day and sealed several hotels and restaurants in view of the violations of guidelines by tourists.

However, reports said that some of the hotels reopened after a disinfection drive.

According to statistics of tourists’ traffic inflow and outflow shared by the KP tourism department, as many as 282,525 vehicles entered in six districts of KP while 222,841 left those spots from August 13 to 20.

At least 169,750 vehicles went to Abbottabad, 82,627 to Swat, 24,181 to Mansehra, 2,744 to Upper Dir, 1,733 to lower Chitral and 1490 to Lower Dir.

Likewise, 745,235 travelers visited those six districts from August 13 to 20, whereas 613,514 left.

The report said that around 188,315 tourists stayed at hotels, 10,993 lived in tents and 33,882 lived at home-based hotels.

An official of the KP tourism department told APP  that the government had been taking strict measures to ensure strict compliance of the SOPs at tourist attractions to ensure the virus did not spread in the province.

He said the KP tourism department’s Directorate of Tourist Services had formally initiated a special training programme in Naran to sensitise relevant stakeholders about the precautionary measures under the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Integrated Tourism and Enterprise (KITE) project, funded by the World Bank.

The programme included creation of awareness and training sessions on implementation of SOPs, he added.

He said over 39 people from various departments had been taking part in the training programme.

“To keep the tourism open and curtail the spread of the virus are our top priorities at the moment,” he remarked.