Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday said with Pakistan having the most beautiful and undiscovered tourist sites in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Northern Areas, there was a need to explore and promote the huge untapped tourism potential, including mountain tourism, skiing etc.
Switzerland, which was just half of KP in term of area, was earning $80 billion per annum through skiing alone, whereas Pakistan’s annual exports were around $ 25 billion, he added.
The prime minister was addressing the launching and partnership signing ceremony of ‘Travel Responsibility for Experiencing Eco-Tourism (TREK)’ here between the Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, World Bank and Nestle Pakistan.
The partners vowed to work together for the protection of the ecosystem through solid waste management and plastics recycling at the tourism sites across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. TREK activities include awareness campaigns for tourists and training of local communities and businesses on waste minimization and collection.
Prime Minister Imran Khan said, “I would like to give a heartfelt congratulations to, Mehmood Khan, Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for his partnership with World Bank and Nestlé Pakistan for a project that I believe that was necessary for a really long time.”
Speaking on the occasion, Najy Benhassine, Country Director for World Bank Group (WBG), Pakistan said, “The WBG is keen to continue supporting Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab in their efforts to provide employment opportunities to the youth in the tourism sector. Today marks the beginning of an important partnership with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and private sector and we expect to see more corporates stepping forward to contribute towards responsible tourism across the country. The growth and job creation potential of this sector is massive”.
Highlighting Nestlé’s initiative in the project, Samer Chedid, CEO, Nestlé Pakistan said, “As part of our vision for a waste-free future, we are accelerating our actions to tackle plastic waste and our partnership with WBG & KP government is a step in that direction. We will be driving new behavior and understanding through community engagement, cleanup activities, trainings and connecting waste recycling companies with the local administration.”
In presence of PM @ImranKhanPTI, Nestlé Pakistan, @KPGovernment and @WorldBank have joined hands for promotion of Responsible Tourism in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Read more: https://t.co/k2nHGoEQL7#ResponsibleTourism #TREK @WBPakistanCD @IMMahmoodKhan @sayedzbukhari @AbidMajeed1969 pic.twitter.com/PN4VzU6dza
— Nestlé Pakistan (@nestlepakistan) December 11, 2020
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TREK initiative includes collaboration for awareness campaigns on responsible tourism, waste collection, management and recycling activities. The initiative is aimed at promoting Eco-Tourism whereby environmental protection of tourism sites in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will be ensured.
PM Imran Khan, while congratulating KP Chief Minister Mehmood Khan for taking lead, said the promotion of tourism especially eco-tourism would not only help the country achieve enhanced economic development but would create more employment opportunities for local population.
He said unfortunately the country’s tourist sites, including those of Naran and Nathiagali, were damaged due to unplanned tourism and constructions.
The Launching of TREK travel responsibility for experiencing Eco-tourism in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa #ResponsibleTourism@KPGovernment pic.twitter.com/ZHtvxCYp1z
— Imran Gill (@ImraanGill) December 11, 2020
The prime minister, however, believed that the TREK initiative, under bylaws for environmental protection, would help protect the beautiful tourist sites like Kumrat Valley, which, he feared, would also be devastated due to unplanned tourism and constructions.
The installation of a cable car at Kumrat Valley would not only add to the beauty of area but would also help attract more tourists, he added.
Imran Khan said unlike Pakistan, where permanent concrete structures were built at beautiful tourist locations, moveable structures were made at various tourist resorts in the world, including Kenya Safari Park to protect the environment.
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The prime minister said the initiatives like TREK would also encourage the local people to take care of the tourist areas in terms of cleanliness and protection of natural beauty from pollution.
He referred to the government’s initiative of protecting the wildlife habitat, including ibex in Chitral, and said due to the government’s efforts the preservation of ibex had been ensured for the protection of wildlife habitat as well as for the benefit of local community.
The prime minister said owing to the government’s policy of promoting tourism, there was a historic increase in tourism, especially local tourism and a large number of people were seen rushing to the KP and Norther Areas in summer and winter seasons alike.
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He said mobile phones were contributing a lot in promoting tourism in the country, as tourists often used the social media, including Facebook to post their pictures at beautiful scenic and tourist sites.
The prime minister while constructing roads, hotels or any other buildings in the country’s tourist sites and areas, the protection of environment should be specially taken care of.
Other speakers at the event highlighted the role of tourism in job creation and appreciated Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s efforts for facilitating tourists by improving accessibility through roads, rescue services and planning of tourism zones.
“We are opening up new destinations for domestic and international tourists and inviting the private sector to further develop the tourism market of the province. Our collaboration with the World Bank Group, Nestle and other stakeholders will strengthen the efforts to create livelihood opportunities and effectively address the issues faced by the tourism sector including waste management”, said the Chief Minister of KP, Mahmood Khan, when addressing the event.