It is a welcome initiative by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Public Private Partnership Committee to set up three Integrated Tourism Zones (ITZs) projects to develop the tourism industry. Mainly these zones would comprise Ganool, Mankiyal and Madaklasht in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The total cost of the venture is Rs 12.2 billion, which is aimed at catalyzing the development of sustainable tourism to ensure the socio-economic growth of the province. The ITZ Ganool, covering an area of 60 acres, would have nearby attractions like Saiful Maluk lake, Dudi Patsar lake, Payala lake, Shogran, Siri Pai and Kaghan valley. The ITZ Mankiyal with 30 acres areas would consist of Jabba lake, Jarogo Valley, Katora lake and Swat valley and the third ITZ Madaklasht covering an area of 69.4 acres would promote the areas of Chitral Goal, National Park, Kalash valley and the Shandur Pass.
The keenness shown by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government to promote tourism is commendable. There is no doubt that many areas in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit-Baltistan offer ideal attractions for developing tourism. Attractive tourist places in the north of the country receive heavy snowfall and offer enchanting natural scenes. The tourism sector can play a significant part in government’s efforts to achieve growth and create new jobs. Pakistan has tremendous potential for tourism by virtue of its long rich history, cultural diversity, geo-strategic position and captivating landscapes. There are many attractive areas like Hunza, Naran, Kaghan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit-Baltistan where many tourists go and enjoy scenic beauty of the country.
In Skardu, there are many beautiful places like Satpara lake, Shangrilla, Shigar Fort, Kharpocho, world’s second highest peak K-2, and the Deosai mountains that are called the roof of the world and attract many foreigners, who enjoy climbing, tenting and regional culture of these areas. The government can enhance its income by providing security, basic necessities, comfortable and secure transport to tourists. In order to attract tourists, the concerned authorities need to launch successful marketing and promotion campaigns.
Recreational activities in a peaceful atmosphere always attract local and foreign tourists. The establishment of ITZs would with necessary facilities could jumpstart the economy of the province. While the rich beauty of tourist sites surely would attract foreign tourists, security concerns would be the predominant factor militating against the decision of foreign tourists to come to Pakistan. However, it should not be surprising that foreign tourism is where the real money lies, and it would go a long way at catapulting Pakistan’s tourism industry to new levels of growth and development, while at the same time bringing foreign exchange into the country. Hence, the security dimension would have to be a part and parcel of any successful security policy, be it of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa or the country as a whole.