Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Senior Minister Muhammad Atif Khan has said that youth will get employment opportunities if the newly identified tourist resorts in the province are developed and rehabilitated on modern lines to attract tourists.

Tourism plays a vital role in creation of jobs and growth of economy if the existing potential in the province were explored and exploited properly,” the senior minister said while speaking at a meeting of Think-Tank of various departments in Islamabad on Thursday.

Member Provincial Assembly Wazirzada from Chitral, Secretary Sports and Tourism Shahid Zaman, Tourism Corporation Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (TCKP) Managing Director Mushtaq Ahmad Khan, hoteliers, tour operators, members of digital media marketing, adventure motor sports, travel agents and other stakeholders attended the meeting.

Atif Khan said that 60 percent of the province population was youth and majority of them are jobless. However, development of the tourism spots would benefit these youth and they could get job opportunities.

He said that a 10-member high level Task Force had been constituted to remove bottlenecks in the way of tourism promotion and develop new tourist resorts.

He said the Task Force would formulate policy for the access of tourists to the scenic spots and also construct and renovate tourist attractions in the province.

“The Tourism Department is also devising a comprehensive strategy for the promotion of tourism in the recently merged tribal areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,” the senior minister, who also has the portfolio of Sports, Tourism, Archaeology, Culture, Museums and Youth Affairs, said, adding that potential of tourism would fully be explored and exploited to make it a huge revenue-generating sector for the government.

He said that the network of tourist policing will be expanded to other areas to provide foolproof security to the visitors to a particular place.

He said concerted efforts were being made to introduce Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as a tourism brand to the world to attract more tourists and visitors to the province.

The senior minister said that he had talked to Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi about convincing the overseas Pakistanis towards tourists’ spots. He said that local communities would be engaged in the countries that has a large number of overseas Pakistanis.

After two or three years of these steps, overseas Pakistanis would be attracted to the tourist spots in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa that would contribute to the province revenue significantly.

The senior minister said that improving the tourism sector was not possible without the involvement of the private sector and other stakeholders. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government was taking steps for promotion of tourism by taking all stakeholders on board.

“Not only Kumrat would be introduced as a national park but steps would also be taken to establish archaeological park in Elam Valley,” he said.

He said the agenda of the Think Tank meeting included promotion of sustainable tourism and strengthening the sector, taking input from stakeholders for development of new tourism sites. The agenda also included joint mechanism for development of new sites, declaring 2019 as year of mountains for promotion of adventure tourism, joint steps for religious tourism and brainstorming for developing tourism strategy.

The participants said that signboards would be installed on highways and motorways for information about approaching the tourists’ spots. The toll plazas and other places would get drinking water facilities and pamphlets about these places and seeking services of radio stations for providing information about weather and landsliding.

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