KP govt decides to re-open virus-hit tourism industry

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August 12, 2019: Foreign tourists rest at a camping site above Baltoro glacier in the Karakoram range of Gilgit region. Pakistan is home to some of the tallest mountains in the world, including K2, the world’s second highest peak. Mountaineers have long been drawn to the area by the challenging climbs. (Photo by AFP)

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government has decided to open tourism sector but tourists and hotel management must follow guidelines to avoid the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in the province.

According to the documents, foreign tourists will undergo coronavirus tests, hotel management will instruct tourists and guests to follow SOPs, The temperature of the visitors will be checked and the vehicles used for tourists will be disinfected.

Drivers will be required to wear hand gloves and masks. According to the document, no tourist will be allowed to enter the hotel without masks and hotel staff will also be required to wear masks. No more than 4 people will be accommodated in the hotel and its management will ensure social distancing.

In this regard, KP Chief Minister Mahmood Khan has said that the tourism sector has been badly affected due to the Coronavirus situation, therefore, he has approved SOPs to open the province for the arrival of foreign as well local tourists. But the tourists and hotel managements will have to follow strict SOPs to avoid the spread of coronavirus. The chief minister informed that committees have been formed at the local levels to monitor the situation and implement SOPs.

According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, the direct contribution of travel and tourism to Pakistan’s GDP in 2016 was Rs793 billion, constituting 2.7 percent of the total GDP. By 2025, the Pakistani government expects tourism to contribute ₨1 trillion to the national economy.

Meanwhile, the National Command and Operations Center (NCOC) has identified 20 cities for rising coronavirus cases and tightening precautionary measures and recommended smart lockdown. Besides Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore and Quetta, the 20 cities also include Mardan and Peshawar.

Yesterday, Head of NCOC Asad Omar said that coronavirus can be controlled only with strict safty measures. He said if the current situation remain persists, the number of coronavirus cases are expected to reach 300,000 by the end of June. Umar added that the number of COVID-19 patients increase 8 to 10 times by the end of July, for example the number of patients could reach 1 million.

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