NATHIAGALI: Known for mesmerizing natural beauty, landscapes and waterfalls, Khyber Pakthunkhwa’s northern areas including Nathia Gali have attracted influx of tourists and adventure sports enthusiasts due to its pleasant weather following scorching heat in plain districts of Pakistan.
Nathiagali, Ayubia, Khanspur, Harnoi, Bagnotar in Abbottabad, Naran, Kaghan, Saiful Malook lake and Babusir top in Manshera, Kalam, Madyain and Malam Jabba in Swat, Kumrat in Upper Dir and Chitral districts are flooded with tourists enjoying its pleasant weather.
“I came from Nowshera district to spend few days in cool weather of my favorite hilly station of Nathiagali where hide and seek between sun and clouds continued amid start of monsoon season and take tourists in the lap of serenity,” said Qaiser Khan, a resident of Wapda Town, Nowshera while talking to media. “I have visited almost all tourists’ resorts of Pakistan but the splendid natural beauty of Nathiagali has impressed me a lot,” he said, adding it was his third trip to this hilly station of Pakistan. He said the free ride of the Ayubia chairlift has doubled his joy.
To facilitate tourists, the government has taken a number of pro-tourism measures by constructing roads to open up all scenic areas of KP besides reducing load on existing hilly stations, said Muhammad Ali Syed, General Manager, Culture and Tourism Authority while talking to media. Besides construction of hotels and new roads in hilly areas of KP, he said the government has completed geo-mapping and profiling of all tourist areas and put it on google map besides preparing mobile applications and apps for online booking in hotels, rest houses and camping pods.
He said four integrated tourism zones (ITZs) would be developed at Mankiyal Swat, Thandyani Abbottabad, Ganol Manshera and Madaskhast Lower Chitral to promote sustainable, ecotourism and adventure sports. These ITZs would be constructed with financial assistance of World Bank of USD70 million loan grant and its feasibility studies and master planning in final stages. These ITZs would be linked with Hazara and Swat Motorways through approach roads. Around 44 MoUs worth USD 8 billion was signed between different departments of KP government and international firms during Dubai Expo 2022.
Under the public sector development program, tourist resorts at Takht e Suleman, Garam Chesma, Sheikh Badin, Shalozan and Takht Bhai were approved besides development of waterfalls at different districts. Muhammad Ali Syed said that waterfalls of Lamchar, Sajkot, Noori, Chajjian Haripur, Jarogo Swat, Lanchar Dir and Umbrella Abbottabad would be developed to promote ecotourism.
He said the government has decided to establish picnic points at premises of Kundal dam Swabi, Jalozai dam Nowshera, Tanda dam Kohat, Chatri dam Haripur and Jhangra dam Haripur. Besides approval of bus service for tourism purposes and establishment of 14 kilometers long cable car service between Upper Dir and Chitral Lower with an estimated cost of Rs32 billion, flowers and ornamental plants nurseries would be established at Kaghan and Naran to promote horticulture and fruits farming. About 182 constables of the newly raised tourism police were deployed in Swat, Chitral, Manshera and Abbottabad.
The development of four historical colonial era tacks were in pipelines including Thandyani-Nathiagali having 8, 200 feet height, 40km length and 1500 old trees belt, Thandyani-Biringali track, Dagri Bangla-Meera Jani-Nathiagali track and Kaghan- Mahnoor track starting from Shinkyari to Kund Bangla and onward to Shaheed Pani-Nadi Bangla to Musa Ka Musallah. Sports theme park would be constructed on 400 kanal land at Hund in Swabi for which MoU has already been signed.
Rescue 1122 stations were set up at Ayubia, Thandiyani, Kewai, Kalash and Kumrat having facilities of two ambulances, one firefighting vehicle and emergency equipment. Four more tourism authorities are being established at Kalash, Kalam, Kumrat and Naran. Ali Syed said the first ever tourism helpline 1422 was made operational providing round the clock service to people. He said Pakistan has made a big jump by improving sixth place i.e. 83rd from 89th in the International Travel and Tourism Development Index (TTDI), which reflected Federal and KP Govts pro-tourism policies and development projects for promotion of tourism sector.