Azad Kashmir Minister calls for promotion of domestic tourism

LONDON:Stall set up jointly by Azad Kashmir Government, Sarhad Tourism Corporation and Gilgit-Baltistan Tourism has attracted lot of attention at the international travel exhibition at Docklands in East London.This is the first time that provincial tourism set-ups have come together to participate in an international travel moot which has drawn over 500 private and official exhibiters from all over the globe in the cavernous halls of the exhibition centre.Speaking to APP, Azad Kashmir Minister for Tourism, Culture and Archaeology, Tahir Khokhar called for more input both by Federal and provincial authorities into tourism sector and said the scenic spots offer excellent tourist attraction.

He said Valleys like Neelum, Jagran Valley, Sharda, Kail and Guraiz Valley, Jhelum, Leepa, Rawalakot, Banjosa, Samahi and Baghser provide a feast of pleasure to the discerning tourist’s eye.The Minister said his department was focussed on promoting domestic tourism as well on large British-Kashmiri Diaspora with strong roots in Azad Kashmir.He explained various steps being taken to promote tourism in Azad Kashmir and said Kashmir cultural event is being organised soon in Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi and other principal cities of Pakistan to highlight tourist destinations.Furthermore, the Minister said centres are being set up at five entry points to Azad Kashmir at Kohla, Azad Pattan, Bhimber, Baghsar and Mangla to facilitate domestic tourists coming from Pakistan.Speaking about skiing facilities in Azad Kashmir, Khokhar said Pir Chinassi located at an altitude of 9500 feet, offer ideal location for those interested in snow games.Furthermore, pointed that Azad Kashmir provides excellent opportunities for rock climbing, trekking, mountaineering,  rafting, canoeing, kayaking ,summer camping, hikes and para gliding facilities.The Minister said Azad Kashmir is well known for its picturesque valleys, gentle slops, gushing springs, meandering rivers and rivulets which offer tempting opportunities for the tourists.

He said there were also plans to start helicopter services to various tourist spots for those unwilling to travel by road.Representative of Sarhad Tourism Corporation Muhammad Ali Syed also spoke about the tourism facilities in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and called for more assistance and co-operation by the Federal authorities.He said STC has established information centres at Dunga Gali, Chitral and Peshawar while similar facilities are to set up at  Islamabad and Swat to facilities the tourists who have also started coming to Swat after the militants were driven of the area.Syed said STC from November 27, STC will launch a ferry service from Jahangir-Kundi spot to Old Attock bridge, covering a journey of 40 kms as tourist excursion.In this regard, he said STC had ordered construction of double roof boats from Karachi with capacity to hold 30 persons.He said efforts were also under way to revive the skiing resort of Malam Jabba in upper Swat.The official further said STC also plans to participate in SAARC Tourism Fair being organised in Kathmandu next month – App