A consortium is likely to be formed featuring key players dealing in trade and travel industry to assess the magnitude of damages done to the infrastructure of tourism in recent floods before starting reconstruction work.
Ministry of Tourism, Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation, Provincial Tourism Ministries and Departments, Pakistan Private Tour Operators Association, various Hotel Associations have felt the need to devise a viable mechanism to rescue tourism industry in the wake of devastating floods.
Well-informed sources said the consortium would make concerted efforts to estimate the damages and carry out reconstruction activities in Swat, Naran, Gilgit Baltistan and other affected areas.
The consortium would also establish a fund for those who were either rendered jobless or whose businesses suffered damages by floods. An estimated 20,000 people lost jobs when tourism industry was ground to a full halt by the floods.
It is expected the consortium would seek assistance from World Tourism Organisation, and other such bodies in Asian countries.
It would be of tremendous help if WTO or other such organisation hold international exhibitions and utilise the income for Pakistan tourism’s improvement.
The consortium would request the world bodies dealing in trade and travel to help Pakistan either this way or the way they deem fit.
Over all, damages inflicted on tourism infrastructure run in billions.
Federal Tourism Minister Maulana Atta ur Rehman said country’s enchanting tourism industry suffered massive setbacks since 2001.
US’s invasion to Afghanistan cast negative bearings on Pakistan tourism industry; devastating earthquake of 2005 took serious toll on tourism; fragile security and militancy left tourism a principle victim; and, no the worst ever floods that smashed tourism.
The minister said his ministry would accord priority to restore tourism infrastructure damaged in the floods.
The floods that have caused massive devastation across the country struck at a time when tourism was in full swing, especially in Khyber-Pukhtunkhwa and Gilgit Baltistan.
Tourism was gradually getting momentum after successful military operation in Swat and Malakand.
It swept away what had been arduously resurrected after the deadly 2005 earthquake and years of militancy in these enthralling regions. Apart from claiming so many human lives, the floods reduced hotels, motels, bridges, roads, houses to a pile of debris.
District Coordination Officer Asif Rehman said that local administration and Army were jointly carrying out relief operations in the flood hit areas.
So far 286 people have been killed and over 100 injured in the flood-related incidents in various areas of the Swat district.
Flood water inundated 52 villages and damaged crops on 100,000 acres. According to Naeem Akhtar, spokesman of civil administration, the revenue department has so far registered 120 deaths, destruction of 250 restaurants and 1526 damaged houses.
Muhammad Ibrahim of Tehsil Matta said that floods have damaged infrastructure, which was built over 100 years ago, and swept away thousands of shops and restaurants.
The floods have also damaged two grid stations at Madman and Khwazakela and partially damaged a hospital in Madman. Flood wasn’t very good in Naran-Kaghan and Gilgit-Baltistan either. It also caused widespread destruction there.
It would now be challenging situation for the Ministry of Tourism, which is already struggling to get financial support for survival.