As part of Prime Minister Imran Khan`s reform agenda, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has sought financing of $120 million from the World Bank to improve tourism-enabling infrastructure, enhance tourism assets and strengthen destination management for sustainable tourism development in the province.
A World Bank team is currently evaluating the project, and it is expected that after getting the loan from the WB`s soft loan window, International Development Association (IDA), the project will be launched during the next fiscal year.
The bank is expected to approve next month the loan for the project estimated to cost $127 million.
In line with the reform agenda, the KP government has put economic revitalisation, job creation and tourism destination development at the centre of its development roadmap. To achieve these objectives, including through its Integrated Tourism Development Project (KITE), had approached WB through the federal government for assistance.
The proposed project will support activities to overcome infrastructure bottlenecks at popular sites in Kalam and Galyat; encourage higher tourist spending through the development of quality tourism products in Chitralwhile lifting visitors` pressure off the valleys that host the indigenous people of Kalash; and equip authorities with the tools for visitors management and environmental preservation, including in Naran.
KP is Pakistan`s tourism treasure chest and is fast becoming a destination of choice for domestic tourists. It is well endowed with natural resources shaped by Hindukush and Himalayas mountains with stunning alpine landscapes, wildlife, lush forests and numerous glacial lakes.
It boasts historical and religiously significant sites covering over 2,000 years of Buddhist, Muslim and Christian histories. These include 6,000 sites of Gandhara heritage, some of which have been excavated and restored by the KP Directorate of Archaeology and Museums and are now accessible to visitors.