The picturesque Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in Pakistan, characterized by snow-capped mountains, lush valleys, and vibrant natural beauty, is once again gearing up to welcome local and international tourists.
Renowned attractions such as Malka Parbat Mountain, Mahodand Lake, and Kumrat Valley are set to leave lasting impressions on visitors to the region. Adventure sports enthusiasts and eco-tourists are already flocking to experience the province’s stunning landscapes, including the iconic lakes of Saiful Malook, Lulusir, and Ansoo, as well as the striking Babusar Top.
Saiful Malook, a famous 1.06 diameter, 113 feet deep, and 3,224 meters above sea level lake, is named after Persian Prince Saiful Malook and fairy princess Badri Jamala. It is renowned for its serene and peaceful atmosphere.
In recent years, enhanced road connectivity through the Hazara Motorway, the establishment of camping pods, construction of jeep tracks, and improved road links have made it easier for tourists to visit Kaghan Valley and its suburbs. This has led to an influx of tourists, prompting the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government to ensure better mobility and security facilities for visitors.
“As tourist influx increases every year, becoming a source of earning for the province, we are ensuring numerous measures to facilitate them,” said Saad Khan, KP Tourism and Culture Authority spokesman.
As part of the Ecotourism Project, camping pods were established near Saiful Malook Lake to provide affordable accommodation alternatives for tourists. In addition to this location, ten more camping pod sites are being installed across the province, offering two to four beds, a washroom, and a small kitchen at rates significantly lower than private hotels. Saad reports that the success of the initial camping pods has led to plans for ten more locations in the region.
Muhammad Ali Syed, General Manager of the KP Tourism and Culture Authority, also informed about the establishment of five tourist facilitation centers in Chitral, Donga Gali, Abbottabad City, and Peshawar. To reduce the strain on popular tourist routes, 15 jeep tracks are being constructed in areas such as Galiyat, Kaghan, Naran, Kalam, Malam Jabba, and Dir, at an estimated cost of around Rs500 million.
The KP government has announced the construction of Integrated Tourism Zones (ITZs) at Ghanool Mansehra, Mankiyal Swat, Madaklasht Chitral, and Thandiyani Abbottabad, with assistance from the World Bank. These ITZs are expected to attract millions of dollars in investment and create 200,000 direct and indirect jobs.
The provincial government has also completed a feasibility study for a Cable Car project from Dir Upper to Madaklast Chitral, which will be financed by the World Bank through the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Integrated Tourism Project (KITE). Furthermore, the tourism department is establishing ecotourism spots at small dams and constructing roads to improve overall accessibility.
In addition to infrastructure improvements, initiatives to enhance security for tourists are being implemented. These include the deployment of tourism police at various locations and the launch of a tourist assistance app. Hayat Ali Shah, senior general manager of planning and development at KP Tourism and Culture Authority, revealed that these measures contributed to around 86,000 tourists visiting the province during the Eidul Fitr holidays.
Private campground owners and operators can draw inspiration from the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province’s efforts to enhance facilities and cater to the growing influx of tourists. By investing in improved accommodations like camping pods, better road connectivity, and tourist facilitation centers, campground owners can attract more visitors and provide a seamless travel experience.
Furthermore, integrating technology like tourist assistance apps and sustaining a robust online presence can optimize visitor experiences and bolster business.