Syed Marwan Shah
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government is carrying out construction work on mega infrastructure projects under the World Bank-assisted KP Integrated Tourism Development Project (KITE), reports WealthPK. The mega infrastructure projects include 22km Mankyal Road with an estimated cost of Rs4.631 billion, and 23km Thandiani Road with a cost of Rs3.182 billion. Mankyal road will link the beautiful and unexplored Mankyal Valley to the National Highway, while the rehabilitation of Thandiani Road will provide necessary access for tourists.
The KITE project is aimed at opening a new tourist valley and a new area for tourism through integrated tourism zones (ITZs) in Mankyal, Ghanool, Thandiani, and Madaklasht. According to the World Bank, the development objective of the KITE project for Pakistan is to improve tourism-enabling infrastructure, enhance tourism assets, and strengthen destination management in order to promote sustainable tourism development in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
According to an official handout from the KP Tourism Department, tourism sector in KP has experienced substantial growth in recent years. This is primarily due to increased security and improved accessibility. Over $120 million in direct revenue is generated by approximately 1.2 million domestic tourists and thousands of international tourists visiting the area annually. Recognising the high potential for tourism to contribute to economic growth and opportunity, the government of KP has prioritised the development of this sector.
This development presents both challenges and opportunities. Where increased tourism activity presents an opportunity for poverty reduction through economic growth, enterprise development, and job creation, with particular involvement of local communities among women and the rural poor, it also increases environmental and social challenges in the area. The KITE project has four components.
The goal of the first component—sector enablement and tourism entrepreneurship is to strengthen and formalise the travel and tourism industry in KP. As part of the second component—infrastructure development, the provincial government will receive assistance in planning and developing public infrastructure. Identifying such opportunities will enable them to mobilise private sector investments.
The third component—project management and capacity building will support the following activities: (1) supporting project management and capacity building; (2) implementing environmental preservation and waste management activities; and (3) performing civil works to ensure the proper functioning of the Project Management Unit - Department of Culture, Sports, Tourism, and Youth Affairs, and the Communication and Works Department (C&W). The fourth component—contingent emergency response provides immediate assistance, when necessary, in the event of an eligible crisis or emergency.
Credit : Independent News Pakistan-WealthPk