Chitral tourism suffers and blames Pakistan International Airlines
Chitral is a major travel and tourism destination in Pakistan. Local tour operators and hotel owners noticed that the number of tourists to Chitral had dropped to the lowest level over the years due to unavailability of PIA flights in five days of the week.
The picturesque Chitral town in Pakistan lies on the Chitral River. Worth seeing is the Shahi Masjid (Grand Mosque) against the backdrop of Trichmir peak 7700 meters (25,264 feet), ex-ruler’s fort and the local style of Khowar houses of the friendly locals.
Also worth exploring is the fascinating bazaar, which offers a host of handcrafted treasures. Chitral Valley is famous for its polo tournaments, held from April to July and September to October.
Summers are generally pleasant but the winters are extremely cold. Chitral Valley has unpredictable weather during spring with frequent rains and snowfall. Autumn is pleasant with mild temperatures.
The ideal time for tourists to visit Chitral Valley is from June to September
Reduction in the number of PIA flights to Chitral from Islamabad by more than half and frequent cancellation had adversely affected the arrival of foreign tourists.
Local tour operators and hotel owners noticed that the number of tourists to Chitral had dropped to the lowest level over the years due to unavailability of PIA flights in five days of the week.
An owner of a tourist hotel in the city, Shahzada Sirajul Mulk, recalled that in 1980s the number of foreign tourists was at its maximum when the national flag-carrier used to operate three flights a day and an additional one on need basis.
He said that the number of tourists started declining in direct proportion to the number of flights when these were reduced to two and one per day, and finally to the existing only two flights a week on Fridays and Saturdays.
Mr Mulk, who is also a former captain pilot of PIA airline, lamented that the existing flights were highly susceptible to cancellation on weather grounds, which mostly occurred due to selection of wrong timings.
He said that in mountainous areas like Chitral the morning time was more airworthy than the afternoon when the clouds started developing with each passing moment. He said that it was a pity that the timing of Chitral flights had been changed to afternoon, leading to their frequent cancellations.
The tourists coming to northern areas of the country for mountaineering and sightseeing in hilly areas get diverted to Gilgit Baltistan due to the availability of daily two flights each for Gilgit and Skardu.
He said that it seemed that deliberate efforts were being made by certain circles in the centre to divert the tourists and mountain expedition teams to GB though Chitral was known as the ‘paradise of mountaineers’.
Chitral could be a highly profitable route for the airline if the schedule of two daily flights was restored due to the high number of foreign visitors who paid four-time more than the local visitors.