Improved Security and New Infrastructure Boost Pakistan Tourism Industry

Large numbers of Pakistanis headed north for respite from summer heat during Eid ul Fitr holidays last week. Tens of thousands went to Swat using the newly built Swat Expressway while others chose even cooler temperatures in the heights of the Karakoram mountain via the improved Karakoram Highway. Some of the preferred tourist destinations included Hunza, Astore, Fairy Meadows, Neelum Valley, Swat and Kumrat. In addition to using tents in camping areas, many tourists found accommodations in public rest houses ordered opened by Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Fairy Meadows near Nanga Parbat in Gilgit Baltistan

Swat Expressway:

Over 60,000 vehicles used the expressway to enter Swat Valley over Eid holidays, according to local officials as reported by Pakistani media. It's a far cry from early 2009 when the Taliban appeared to be in control of Pakistan's Swat valley, and the US politicians and international media were deeply concerned about the insurgents closing in on Islamabad.

Then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned in 2009 that Pakistan was “abdicating to the Taliban”. Various western commentators and pundits went further by predicting Pakistan's "imminent collapse", and the usual foreign policy rags chimed in with their shrill talk of Pakistan as a "failed state".  By 2011, Pakistan Army cleared Swat of the militants, brought refugees back home and began to restore tourism.

Swat Expressway

Built by Pakistani military's Frontier Works Organization (FWO) under contract for Khyber Pukhtunkhwa privincial government, the Swat Expressway is a state-of-the-art 81 kilometers (50 miles)  long 4-lane controlled access motorway that is opening up the hidden treasures of Swat, Chitral, Dir Upper, Dir Lower, Kohistan, Shangla, Buner, Mohmand and Bajaur districts to the world. It's been funded by a $50 million grant by the Saudi government. Its southernmost point is Karnal Sher interchange in Swabi District on Peshawar-Islamabad M1 Motorway and goes north to Chakdara Dir Lower district after passing through 21 bridges and 1300 meters twin tunnels on National Highway N-45.

Karakoram Highway (KKH)


Karakoram Highway:

Karakoram Highway (KKH), the highest paved road in the world, is a 1,300 kilometer (810 miles) Pakistani national highway that extends from Hasan Abdal in the Punjab province via Khyber Pukhtunkhwa (KP) prvince to the Khunjerab Pass in Gilgit-Baltistan, where it crosses into China.  KKH upgrade is a $1.3 billion project expected to be completed as part of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) by 2020. After the upgrade, widths of its various sections will be in the range of  12.5 meters to 30 meters. Minimum widths of lanes will generally be between 2.5 to 3.25 meters.

KKH has opened up a world of unmatched natural beauty and splendor of places like Hunza, Astore and Fairy Meadows for domestic and foreign tourists. It has connected many cities and towns including Haripur, Abbottabad, Mansehra, Battagram, Besham, Pattan, Dasu, Chilas, Gilgit, Aliabad, Gulmit, Sust, Tashkurgan, Upal And Kashgar.

Pakistan's tourism industry, currently estimated at $20 billion (6.9% of GDP in 2016), is booming, according to data available from multiple reliable sources. World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) forecasts it to grow to over $36 billion within a decade.

Economic Impact of Tourism:

Pakistan tourism industry generates $20 billion in revenue and supports 3.6 million jobs directly and indirectly, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council. Foreign visitors generate nearly a billion US$ in exports.

Economic Contribution of Pakistan Tourism. Source: WTTC

Tourism Growth: 

Significantly improved security situation has helped boost annual tourist arrivals in Pakistan by 300% since 2013 to 1.75 million in 2016, while domestic travelers increased 30% to 38.3 million, according to the state-owned Pakistan Tourism Development Corp.  Hotel bookings increased 80 percent in 2016, according to Jovago, Pakistan’s biggest hotel booking website.

Courtesy: Nikkei Asian Review

By contrast, foreign tourist arrivals in the country’s larger neighbor, India, jumped from 6.97 million in 2013 to 8.8 million in 2016, according to Indian government figures. 88% of India's and 92% of Pakistan's tourism revenue is domestic. India's tourism industry is worth $209 billion (9.6% of of GDP in 2016), according to WTTC.

A story in the Financial Times, a British newspaper, quotes British tour operator Jonny Bealby as saying,   “While I am sure this will raise some eyebrows, we are starting to see a marked increase in tourism to Pakistan".  Bealby's company arranged 55% more clients to Pakistan in 2017 compared with 2016, and advance bookings are more than 100 per cent up on this point 12 months ago, according to the Financial Times.

Top Adventure Tourism Destination: 

British Backpackers Society has recently ranked Pakistan as its top destination for adventure tourism.  The Society describes Pakistan “one of the friendliest countries on earth, with mountain scenery that is beyond anyone’s wildest imagination”.

Pakistan Tourism Promotion in Jakarata, Indonesia
Pakistan's northern areas are a top destination for adventure-seekers interested in mountain climbing, white water rafting,  extreme kayaking and helicopter skiing.

Pakistan Brand Promotion on London Buses

Pakistan Tourism Promotion: 

Pakistan government's tourism campaign — including covering buses in several major world cities with beautiful pictures of Pakistan's tourist attraction — have helped raise the country’s profile. Increased investments in roads, airports and other infrastructure have helped ease travel.



Pakistan government has announced its decision to provide 30 day tourist visa on arrival for visitors from 24 countries on three continents.

Summary:

Improved security and new infrastructure are boosting Pakistan's domestic and international tourism. The industry in Pakistan is booming with 300% increase in foreign tourist arrivals since 2013.  Tens of thousands of domestic tourists went to Swat using the newly built Swat Expressway while others chose even cooler temperatures in the heights of the Karakoram mountain via the improved Karakoram Highway. Some of the preferred tourist destinations included Hunza, Astore, Fairy Meadows, Neelum Valley, Swat and Kumrat. In addition to using tents in camping areas, many tourists found accommodations in public rest houses ordered opened by Prime Minister Imran Khan. Tourism industry contributed $20 billion (6.9% of GDP in 2016) and supported 3.6 million jobs in Pakistan in 2016.  World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) forecasts it to grow to over $36 billion within a decade.


Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Pakistan Travel and Tourism Boom

Extreme Kayak Adventures in Pakistan

Helicopter Skiing in Karakorams

Climbing K2: The Ultimate Challenge

Indian Visitors Share "Eye-Opening" Stories of Pakistan

American Tourist Picks Pakistan Among Top 10 Best Countries to Visit

Pakistani American to Pakistani Diaspora: Go Back and Visit Pakistan

Riaz Haq's YouTube Channel

PakAlumni Social Network

Comments

Riaz Haq said…
Over 400,000 tourists visit Swat during Eid days

https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/481957-over-400-000-tourists-visit-swat-during-eid-days

Over 400,000 tourists visited Swat and tens of thousands others turned up at other districts in the Malakand and Hazara divisions during the Eid holidays, officials told The News on Saturday.


The government made efforts to provide facilities to the tourists at the hill-stations in Malakand and Hazara divisions where Tourist Police have been launched and teams of other relevant departments deployed to facilitate the visitors.

“Apart from providing security at all the tourist points, police have been deployed since the first day of Eid to ensure smooth flow of traffic after receiving a huge number of tourists in Malakand division,” Regional Police Officer Mohammad Saeed Wazir told The News.

He added that around 197,000 vehicles bringing tourists entered Malakand division since the first day of Eidul Fitr. Swat received the highest number of tourists.

“From the first day of Eid, roughly 400,000 to 500,000 tourists have entered Swat to reach Kalam, Madyan, Bahrain, Malam Jabba and other scenic places,” District Police Officer of Swat Ashfaq Anwar, told The News. The official said a special traffic management system had been planned to ensure smooth flow of traffic.

“We have launched the Tourist Police that apart from managing traffic facilitated and helped the tourists. The visitors are being given special pamphlets and guidance by the Swat Police. All our senior and junior officials are on the road since Eid day,” said DPO Ashfaq Anwar. A large number of families from all over the country thronged Kalam, Madyan, Bahrain and Malam Jabba in Swat as well as Kumrat in Upper Dir and some scenic valleys in Chitral.

Tourists also flocked to Naran, Kaghan, Nathiagali, Siri Paye and other tourist destinations in Hazara division where police along with officials of other departments are on the road since Eid day to facilitate the guests. The cops are also helping the tourists to repair broken cars and bikes as well as getting food and water.

The access to Hazara has been made easy after the newly constructed Motorway from Hassanabdal while the under construction Swat Expressway was also opened for light vehicles during the Eid holidays. Thousands of vehicles entered Malakand division via the 81 kilometres long Swat Expressway.

The movement of traffic was slow while driving to tourist resorts, including Kalam, Malam Jabba and Miandam due to large number of vehicles and poor condition of the roads at various places.

Apart from the police and district administration, teams of the health department, civil defense as well as Rescue 1122 remained on the road in the tourist stations to provide treatment to the large number of visitors in case of an emergency.

The spokesman for the Rescue 1122, Bilal Ahmad Faizi said technicians in ambulances of 1122 have been providing emergency treatment to people at tourist stations in Malakand and Hazara divisions since the Eid day.

The government has opened a number of rest-houses in the two divisions where tourists are being provided better accommodation at reasonable rates.

The tourists complained that the local hotels were charging high rates at all the tourist stations after receiving such a large number of guests from all over the country.

The locals argue that the summer season is the only time to earn some money which they use throughout the year to support their families.
Riaz Haq said…
Three Interchanges Of Hazara Motorway's Section-II To Be Open Till August: Commissioner

https://www.urdupoint.com/en/pakistan/three-interchanges-of-hazara-motorways-secti-645952.html

Pakistan Point News - 16th Jun, 2019 ) ::Commissioner Hazara division Syed Zaheer ul islam Saturday said that all three interchanges of Hazara Motorway's section-II including Havelian Maira, Mangal Sajji Kot and Manshera would be opened till August this year.

He said this while talking to media during his visit to the motorway from Shah Maqsood to Abbottabad Shimla Hill to review the progress.

He said the construction work over Havelian Maira interchange had been completed while on two remaining bridges of section-II would take around two months. However, he added, all the three bridges would be opened at the same time as with opening of just Havelian Maira interchange would cause overburden of traffic flow in Abbottabad city.

Syed Zaheer ul Islam also asked the National Highway Authority (NHA) to further improve the quality and prompt completion of work.

The commissioner said that the opening of these interchanges would help resolving the issue of traffic congestion within Abbottabad city.

He said he had conveyed to NHA and Chinese officials to immediately complete the remaining work as people of Hazara were eagerly waiting for operationalization of this portion of motorway.

Zaheer ul Islam said there was no interchange for Abbottabad city on Hazara motorway. The people of Abbottabad would had to travel 10 kilometers for using Havelian Maira interchange while 13 kilometers for using Mangal Sajji interchange.

However, he said, his team had prepared a PC-I for another interchange at Thanda Maira, a point 1.2 kilometers away from General Bus Stand Abbottabad. The PC-I had also been presented to the provincial government for approval, the commissioner added.
Riaz Haq said…
300 Percent Traffic Flow Increased On M2 Since Launching

https://www.urdupoint.com/en/pakistan/300-percent-traffic-flow-increased-on-m2-sinc-624930.html

The traffic flow had increased by 300 percent on Motorway (M2) since it launched in 1997 which required new equipment to cop with the traffic flow.

DIG/Commandant National Highways and Motorway Police (NH&MP) Training College, Sheikhpura, Mehboob Aslam here on Sunday said more equipment and manpower were needed to cope with the burgeoning traffic flow on the motorways and the highways.

In an interview with APP, he said no new vehicles and and other equipment had been allocated to the National Highway and Motorway Police (NH&MP) which created problem for them to ensure smooth flow of traffic.

He urged to equip the force with latest equipment to meet the traffic challenges of the highways as the roads had increased from 1200 kilometers to 3000 kilometers.

About the efficiency, he said despite meager resources, the force had been able to significantly control the number of accidents by 40 percent as compared to 2005 statistics.

The senior police officer also stressed the need to enhance facilities at the NH&MP Training College, adding, more than 12000 inductions would be made in the force after the increased traffic activity due to the CPEC.

About his initiatives as Commandant Training College, the DIG said the training college library was renovated while curriculum review committee had been constituted besides installing new sound system at the auditorium and conference hall.

He said the provision of modern HTV Driving Simulator was another initiative which would help train drivers on the motorways and reduce the risk of accidents.

About Shaheed Addl IG, Sifwat Ghayur, DIG/Commandant Mehboob Aslam said the installation of memorial for Sifwat Ghayur was a recognition of the services of a fearless police officer who embraced martyrdom fighting for the motherland.

He said Sifwat Ghayur was a role model for the police force and beacon of light for all.

About training, he said ethics and morality were the cardinal principles of training under him at the NH&MP Training College, adding, the main focus of training was to inculcate the moral values which would revolutionize working of the force.

To a query, he said, the traffic controllers must not lose touch with nicety and politeness while giving fine-tickets to the angry commuters for traffic violations.

The Commandant said, he had also decided to update the training modules at the academy, adding, same syllabus was being taught previously for the training from constables to Deputy Superintendent of police (DSPs).

He further said all training syllabus were being revised in collaboration with the Interagency Career Transition Assistance Program (ICTAP) of the US embassy as per the international standards and guidelines by the United Nations.

About controlling traffic accidents, he said, traffic education should be part of the syllabus at an early age for children as it would sensitize them about traffic rules for the rest of their lives and help control the road-side accidents significantly.
Riaz Haq said…
Existing portfolio of NHA consists of 38 ongoing projects with an allocation of Rs176,636.80mn: Economic Survey

https://www.brecorder.com/2019/06/10/501653/existing-portfolio-of-nha-consists-of-38-ongoing-projects-with-an-allocation-of-rs176636-80mn-economic-survey/


The existing portfolio of National Highway Authority (NHA) consists of 38 ongoing projects with an allocation of Rs176,636.80 million in PSDP 2018-19 out of which 66,700.00 million is the Foreign Exchange Component (FEC) and Rs109,936.80 million is the local component, said Pakistan Economic Survey launched here Monday.

There are also eight new schemes in Public Sector Developemnt Programme (PSDP) 2018-19 with total estimated cost of Rs8,561.00 million. National Highway Authority (NHA) is playing a vital role in improving the quality of Pakistan’s road network, which entails in improving the quality and standard of life of the people apart from creating job opportunities.

The present NHA network comprises of 47 national highways, motorways, expressways, and strategic roads while Current length of this network is 12,743 Km. Through China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the NHA is connecting Khunjrab to Gwadar and currently there are ongoing CPEC projects worth Rs700 billion related to NHA.

Western Alignment of the CPEC has 2,463 km length which starts from Khunjrab and passing through Burhan (Hakla), DI Khan (Yarik), Zhob,Quetta,Surab and Hoshab terminates at Gwadar. Its 615 Khunjrab- Raikot section has been completed, Raikot Thakot is at Planning stage, 188 km Thakot-Havelian section is ongoing, 60 km Havelian- Burhan section has been complted, 285 km Burhan (Hakla)- Yarik (DIKhan) is ongoing, PC-I approved Detailed Design 235 km Yarik (DIKhan)- Zhob is in Process, while PC-I of 331 km Zhob Quetta has been approved. Surab-Hoshab (N-85) and Hoshab- Gwadar (M-8) have been completed. Central Alignment projects of the CPEC include 229 km DI Khan – DG. Khan section, 303 km DG Khan – Dera Allahyar section and 94 km Dera Allahyar – Wangu Hills.

Their Feasibility Study Plan in 2025 2025-30 2 303 Feasibility Study Plan in 2025 while thiwer implementation would be done between 2025-30. As far as Eastern Alignment of the CPEC is concerned it has total distance of 2,686 km and its starts from Khunjrab and passes through Thakot,Mansehra,Burhan, Pindi Bhatian,Faisalabad,Multan,Sukkur -Shikarpur,Ratto Dero,Khuzdar,Basima and Hoshab and terminates at Gwadar. About 793 km section of Eastern Alignment from Khunjrab- Burhan is common as Western alignment.

The Eastern Alignment projects completed so far include Khunjerab-Raikot,Havelian-Burhan section, Peshawar-Islamabad Motorway,Islamabad-Lahore Motorway, Pindi Bhattian-Multan Motorway,Sukkur-Shikarpur Mootrway, Rato Dero-Quba Saeed Khan-Khuzdar road, and Basima Gawadar section. More sections of the eastern alignment are in the implementation stage.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan, #China agree to expedite work on #Sukkur-#Hyderabad 296 km long M-6 #Motorway as part of 1650 km #Peshawar #Karachi Motorway. M-6 will be 6-lanes with a design speed of 120 km/hour, 89 bridges, 15 interchanges and 243 underpasses. #CPEC https://nation.com.pk/18-Jun-2019/pakistan-china-agree-to-expedite-work-on-sukkur-hyderabad-motorway

Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms Makhdum Khusro Bakhtyar and Ambassador of China Yao Jing during a meeting here on Monday agreed to expedite the work on Eastern Corridor from Sukkur to Hyderabad in BOT (Build, Operate, and Transfer) mode for its early completion.

The two dignitaries expressed satisfaction over the pace of projects under China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) framework.

The minister said that the incumbent government was committed to fast track the progress on this flagship project between Pakistan and China. He appreciated the Chinese leadership and government for expanding the scope of CPEC by including socio-economic and agriculture sector development under its platform.

The minister noted that signing of framework agreement on agriculture cooperation was a major milestone, adding that Pakistan would welcome Chinese agriculture companies to explore investment opportunities for initiation of joint ventures.

The minister apprised the Chinese ambassador that less developed areas including the merged districts of KP and Balochistan had been accorded priority in the next year’s development budget. The minister said that Gwadar Smart Port City Master Plan would be finalized soon which would chalk away out the way forward for development of the coastal city.

Various projects under CPEC framework including 300 MW Coal based power plant in Gwadar and Kohala Hydro power Station also came under discussion.

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