ISLAMABAD, Aug 31 (APP): Battered tourism bounced back from the coronavirus pandemic as around 745,235 tourists from humid areas of the country rushed to six cool districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to beat sizzling heat after an ease in lockdown.
The government has recently reopened tourism industry with special SOPs (standard operating procedures), which provided a treat to the people restricted to their homes due to the travel restrictions imposed to stem the virus spread in the country.
This year, in the post-lockdown situation, the trend of the last ten days showed that inflow of tourists in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) has posted almost 100 per cent growth, with average 50,000 tourists are visiting the northern areas of the country each day as compared to 25,000 in the corresponding period.
However, there is another side of the picture as tourists inflow with such intensity has alarmed the bell for second wave of the coronavirus due to irresponsible attitude of tourists, ignoring the SOPs particularly social distancing, mask wearing and usage of hand-sanitizers in routine.
The Kaghan Development Authority has reportedly imposed smart lockdown in various areas the other day and sealed several hotels and restaurants in view of violations of guidelines committed by the tourists. However, there were reports of reopening of some hotels after their massive disinfection.
Anyhow, the careless attitude of travelers, hotels and restaurants staffers have not shattered resolve of KP government for keeping tourism open in the province as it has launched a training programme for tourism industry to ensure strict compliance of the anti-virus SOPs.
According to the statistics of tourists and traffic inflow and outflow, shared by the KP tourism department, as many as 282,525 vehicles entered in six districts of the KP while 222,841 left those spots between August 13 to 20.
At least 169,750 vehicles went to Abbottabad, 82,627 Swat, 24,181 Mansehra, 2,744 Dir Upper, 1,733 Chitral Lower and 1490 to Lower Dir.
Likewise, 745,235 travelers visited those six districts during the period under review, whereas 613,514 left those attractions.
The report said around 188,315 stayed at hotels, 10,993 did tenting and 33,882 lived at home-based hotels.
Talking to APP, an official of KP tourism department said the government had been taking strict measures to ensure strict compliance of the SOPs at tourist attractions to purge the virus spread in the province.
He said the KP tourism department’s Directorate of Tourist Services had formally initiated special training programme in Naran to sensitize the relevant stakeholders about the precautionary measures under the KITE project, funded by the World Bank.
The programme included creation of awareness and training sessions on implementation of the SOPs, he added.
He said more than 39 people from various departments had been taking part in the training programme.
“To keep the tourism open and suppress the virus spread are our top priorities at the moment,” he remarked.