Tourism In Northern Areas
25 May 2004
Karachi: According to a recent report, one of the country's most scenic places, Kalam in Swat, has suffered a serious drop in tourism because of an extraordinary delay in the construction of an access road connecting it with the rest of the valley. The delay is said to have prevented tourists from reaching Kalam which lies at the northern tip of the valley. This shows the glaring contradiction between what the government says it will do to promote tourism and what it actually does. Claims are being made all the time by senior functionaries that much is being done to increase the number of tourists coming to the country. Recently, one western government was even approached to review its practice of issuing travel advisories warning its citizens of the consequences of travelling to Pakistan but Islamabad's request was politely refused. A reasonably good and safe access road to any tourist spot in Pakistan's Northern Areas is a prerequisite because people normally take a vacation to have peace of mind. If the road itself and the mode of travel give travellers the jitters then the tourist potential of the site will never be realized. Other than good roads, tourist spots in the Northern Areas need good hotels which provide affordable accommodation, decent food and professional room service. Take the case of Murree, which is filled chock-a-block in summer and where even third-rate hotels manage to charge exorbitant rents because of the heavy demand. Sound infrastructure and good quality of service are sure to attract domestic tourists, but foreign tourists cannot be expected to come to Pakistan in any significant numbers unless steps are taken to tackle the law and order problem besides ensuring improved facilities and services.