PESHAWAR: Thousands of local tourists have started arriving in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) after the federal government announced the end of coronavirus lockdown that saw the closure of the province’s tourist destinations.
From March 2020 to July 2020, the KP tourism sector has incurred a loss of Rs12 billion due to the coronavirus lockdowns. However, tourist activities in the province are making a recovery after Pakistan saw a considerable reduction in Covid-19 cases.
According to sources in the Galiyat Development Authority (GDA), after the government announced the reopening of KP’s tourism sector, more than 50,000 vehicles carrying an estimated 200,000 local tourists have arrived in the Galiyat area in a single day.
Similarly, other tourist destinations in the province including Kaghan, Naran, Mansehra, Balakot, Shugaran and Thandiani also received thousands of tourists which is expected to contribute to the revival of the hotel, transport and poultry industries and generate additional employment opportunities for the local population.
Hotel and Restaurant Association Provincial Chairman Khalid Ayub, while talking to Profit said that the tourism sector, like other industries, has suffered a loss of billions of rupees due to the nationwide lockdown to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
He said that the peak season for hotels and restaurants ranges from June 15 to September 15, after which the province experiences a reduction in the number of tourists due to the onset of winters. He added that due to the lockdowns, hotels and restaurants will now only be able to avail one month of the peak period.
According to sources, after the government announced the reopening of hotels and restaurants, almost 95 per cent of the hotel rooms in the Swat Valley have been booked.
Sources added that due to the construction of the Swat Motorway and a road to Kalam, the influx of tourists from other provinces has increased the sales of Islampur Cottage Industry products in Swat by 50 per cent while sales of fruits, nuts and other local products has also experienced an increase.
The KP Health Department has issued Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for tourists, hotels and restaurants. Health desks have been set up at all tourist destinations and fever checks will be carried out at all entry points, while hotels and restaurants have been directed to regularly disinfect their premises and provide anti-coronavirus kits to their staff members.
KP Health Department officials have also directed authorities to maintain a proper record of tourists and have urged tourists to wear face masks, use sanitizers and maintain social distance.
In case of suspicion of coronavirus or any emergency, tourists have also been urged to visit the nearest health center.