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Covid-19: KP’s tourism sector fears Rs12b in losses by August-end
In this picture taken on August 12, 2019 foreign tourists and porters rest at a camping site above Baltoro glacier in the Karakoram range of Pakistan's mountain northern Gilgit region. - Northern 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 AMELIE HERENSTEIN / AFP)

Covid-19: KP’s tourism sector fears Rs12b in losses by August-end

PESHAWAR: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s tourism sector fears a loss of over Rs12 billion if the government continues to keep the industry closed till next month.

According to media, tourism was the only sector that could have provided employment opportunities to the people who were suffering badly at the hands of coronavirus lockdown.

“The sector would have earned a revenue of billions of rupees if scenic areas of the province were opened for the public on time,” he opined. “But the government instead chose to close the sector, leaving millions associated with the tourism department unemployed.”

He recalled that KP’s tourism department had recommended a one-year abolition of government taxes and fees for the survival of the people involved in this business, but no implementation was carried out in this regard.

According to an international firm’s survey, Pakistan’s hotel industry has suffered the most from the coronavirus pandemic; hotels and restaurants have incurred a loss of Rs6.37 billion, shops and local transporters Rs3.98 billion, archaeological sites Rs1.5 billion and local industry Rs32.17 million.

In total, the people associated with the tourism sector may bear a loss of Rs12.18 billion by August.

Meanwhile, a report of the KP Integrated Tourism Development picked three locations in the province, namely Swat, Kaghan and Galyat, to assess the damage caused by the closure of the tourism industry. During the last three months, the hotel industry in these places incurred Rs2.12 billion loss; local vendors, transport and Restaurant owners Rs1.32 billion; archaeological sites Rs500 million, and local industry Rs107.25 million.

The losses could be tripled by August if efforts were not made for revival of the Industry.

As per the report, income of 2,011 drivers, tour guides, labourers, porters and others belonging to these tourist destinations had been affected.

Similarly, room bookings for 5,390 and 8,235 tourists in Hazara and Malakand Divisions have been canceled due to the virus outbreak.

The report recommended the provincial government to provide grants as well as interest-free loans to those involved in the tourism sector, besides relief in government taxes, fees and arrears for the next one year to rehabilitate the industry.