Ecotourism flourishes in KP as 1.6mn tourists visit Hazara, Malakand during Eid vacations

AYUBIA, May 11 (APP): Ecotourism has started flourishing in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where over 1.6 million tourists, mountaineers and adventure sports enthusiasts had visited its picturesque Malakand and Hazara divisions where they enjoyed its pleasant weather under snow-clad mountains of Malaika Parbath and Hamaliya during Eid holidays.

Amid hide and seek between sun and clouds with erratic rainfalls over hills of Ayubia and Nathia Gali in Abbottabad district, the tourists mostly belonged to the plain areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Central Punjab have explored the mesmerizing natural beauty of Galiyat, Dongagali, Bagnotar, Khanpoor and Harnoi in Abbottabad, Naran, Kaghan and Saiful Malook in Manshera, Kalam, Madain and Malam Jabba in Swat, Kumrat in Dir Upper and Chitral districts and spent few days with families in its pleasant weather amid great fun and laughter.

The influx of tourists have made very positive effect on rural economy in Malakand and Hazara divisions besides generating jobs opportunities for thousands of youth in transport, hotel s, camel, horse riders, photographers, ride at Ayubia chairlift and food sectors.

“Ayubia is my favorite hill station due to its mesmerizing natural beauty and chairlift facility and I came here for the last five years to spend few days in its pleasant weather,” said Zeeshan Khan, a resident of Wapda Town Peshawar while talking to APP here.

He said Ayubia’s chairlift facility take tourists to a new height of fun and laughter.

“Before, Ayubia I had visited my charming tourist place of Kumrat valley and Lamchar waterfall in Dir Upper where I enjoyed my favorite trout fish with my family in its relaxed atmosphere,’ said Zeeshan.

Muhammad Ali Syed, General Manager, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Culture and Tourism Authority told APP that waterfalls of Lamchar, Sajkot, Noori, Chajjian Haripur, Jarogo Swat, Lanchar Dir, Umbrella Abbottabad would be developed on modern lines to promote ecotourism in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

He said new camping pods would be established at Larum Top and Shahin Bin Shahi Lower Dir, Kumrat Dir Upper, Broghal and Sorlaspur at Chitral Upper, Shangla, Samana Haripur, Sulatharn Swat and Kalam to provide affordable accommodation to tourists and adventure sports enthusiasts.

According to tourism officials, Malakand division had attracted about 1.2 million tourists including 45,000 tourists by Buner, 58,000 by Chitral Lower, 1,25,000 by Dir Upper’s Kumrat, 1,45,000 by Dir Lower and over eight lakh by Swat during Eid days.

Galayat had drawn over three lakh tourists and over 80,000 by Buner.

According to officials, about Rs300 million revenue was generated only from Naran, Kaghan and Kurmat valleys.

Besides domestic tourists, about 622 foreign tourists have visited Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s scenic tourists destinations during Eid vacations. Out of these foreign tourists, 463 have explored the natural mountainous beauty of Chitral Lower, 54 by Swat and over a dozen by Upper Dir. Similarly, 100,00 tourists visted Kaghan and Naran besides Saiful Malook known for prince Saif-Badri Jamala fairytales.

Likewise, over 12,000 enjoyed the pleasant weather of Balakot in Manshera known for lush green valleys and thick forest. Besides water rafting and boating, the tourists also enjoyed Kunar’s brown fish while staying in the lap of Malika Parbath’s snow clad mountains in Upper Kaghan.

All hotels and restaurants besides private inns were jam packed with tourists at Nathiagali, Dongagali, Bagnotar, Khanpur and Ayubia courtesy to reconstruction of Nathia Gali-Baryan Road and Galyat beautification projects by the government.

Shaukat Ali Yousafzai, Commissioner Malakand Division told APP that Government’s excellent arrangements including traffic management, ensuring availability of staff and make a close check on hotels’ fare have immensely helped attracting a large number of tourists during Eid days to Swat, Chitral, Dir, Shangla, Buner and Chitral besides generated employment opportunities for youth and upward boost to rural economy.