An Investment Readiness Conference for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Integrated Tourism Zones (ITZs) was Thursday organized in Peshawar to mobilize private sector investments and promote a responsible tourism. National-level investors, presidents of ICCI and RCCI, representatives of PTDC, KP-BOIT and other trade associations attended the event that was for the ITZs in Mankyal, Swat and Ganool, Manshera, says a statement received by WealthPK.
ITZs is a maiden concept in Pakistan which aims to open a new destination in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to promote responsible tourism by suggesting diversity and quality in the tourism offering of these destinations and provide guidance for tourist planning and destination management activities.
ITZ feasibilities and master plans were prepared by the KP’s Department of Tourism (DoT) through the World Bank-sponsored Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Integrated Tourism Development (KITE) project with the support of international experts over a period of one year.
Provincial authorities and other speakers shared the opportunities for private sector investments with the participants. As part of this exercise, customized plans for each destination have been prepared and will be used to invite investments from the private sector. It is expected that this approach to destination management will lead to an improved visitor experience, better regulation of sites and mobilization of resources from the private sector for the identified investments.
In his keynote address, Director General KP Culture and Tourism Authority (KP CTA) Muhammad Bakhtiar Khan said, “Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is well-positioned as a preferred tourism destination in Pakistan having a considerable competitive advantage due to the natural endowments and a culture of hospitality.
“The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government is not only focusing on creating employment opportunities by promoting tourism activities but also making efforts to conserve natural and cultural assets by promoting responsible tourism. KP CTA is committed to its objective of making the province a preferred tourist destination.
Efforts are being made to not only develop new tourist sites but also better manage the existing tourist areas. It is important for us to prepare the sites for handling the tourist influx during the peak season and to harness this opportunity to create economic opportunities for the communities.”
In his welcome address, Ali Asghar, Chief Economist KP, gave a briefing on sustainable tourism initiatives undertaken by the government. “The use of innovative approaches, including development planning for new and existing destinations, public-private partnerships, reduced carbon footprint and heritage preservation, are at the centre of project implementation.
The government contributes extensively towards tourist facilitation, building the sector’s resilience against climate change and geophysical hazards and local economic development.” Kiran Afzal, (Senior Private Sector Specialist, World Bank) in her remarks congratulated the Department of Tourism and the project team of the KITE project on achieving this milestone and mentioned that ITZs can especially help the tourism sector of KP in attracting investments which will lead to the economic and social uplift of local communities.
Chief guest Sardar Yasir Ilyas, former President ICCI, appreciated the KP government’s efforts for promoting sustainable tourism and urged the local investors to make investments in the tourism sector. He also explained steps taken by Chamber and government to facilitate investments in this sector.
It is important to note that Upper Swat and Manshera were impacted by the recent floods and there was thus a compelling case for disaster mitigation in order to conserve nature and protect tourism assets and livelihoods of communities that rely on tourism receipts.
An exclusive discussion on the title “Real-estate and Tourism, A Public Private Partnership approach” was part of the conference. The panel shed light on various aspects of sustainable tourism and opportunities for the local economy. The panellists appreciated the efforts of DoT, CTA and KITE project and recommended practical ways for the immediate implementation of these plans.
Credit : Independent News Pakistan-WealthPk