President Masood declares AJK ideal for scenic, archaeological tourism

President Masood declares AJK ideal for scenic, archaeological tourism

MIRPUR (AJK):Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) President Sardar Masood Khan Tuesday said AJK offered immense opportunities for scenic tourism owing to the exquisite mountains, valleys, glaciers, green pastures, rivers and streams across the most beautiful territory.

The President made these remarks during the Pakistan Tourism Summit 2019 held in Islamabad to highlight the country’s tourism potential, an AJK Presidential Secretariat press release issued here said .

The event was also addressed by Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Muhammad Atif Khan, Senior Minister for Tourism Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Fida Khan Fida, Minister for Tourism Gilgit Baltistan, Abdul Khaliq Hazara, Minister for Tourism Balochistan Raja Yasir, Minister for Tourism Punjab, Chief Executives Officers of leading hotel chains and leading personalities related to the tourism industry of Pakistan.

President Masood Khan said that the tourism industry in Pakistan was still in its developing stage despite the fact that in January 2019, FORBES ranked Pakistan in the top ‘10 coolest’ places to visit in the world.

The British Backpackers Society, he said, gave Pakistan the top spot in its 2018 ranking both for the “incredible” hospitality and “mountain scenery” that was beyond anyone’s imagination.

Masood Khan said that AJK was seeing growing number of tourists over the years as an average of 1.5 million tourists visited AJK in 2017 as compared to a just half a million tourists in 2010. The bulk of these were domestic tourists, he said.

The President said AJK was a land of exquisite beauty, which also boasts very unique archeological and historical sites including ancient sites like Sharda, Bagsar Fort, Mangla Fort, Mughal Mosque, Ramkot, Red Fort of Muzaffarabad and also famous Sufi shrines Pir Chinasi, Khari Sharif, Darbar Baba Shadi Shaheed, Haji Pir and Sain Saheli Sarkar.

He said that the AJK Government was focusing on constructing road infrastructures and modern accommodations throughout Azad Kashmir to help facilitate the tourists.

Special efforts are being made to build theme parks, water sport parks, log huts and motels for the tourists, he added.

He said 2019 has been declared as ‘Tourism Year’ in AJK and special initiatives had been adopted by the Government to help facilitate private entrepreneurs willing to invest in the tourism industry of AJK.

Masood said means are being finalized to provide e-assistance to tourists entering AJK by offering them ‘smart card solutions’ at entry points, smartphone mobile apps and SMS service to help guiding them to the best tourist locations and lodging facilities.

Similarly, the State Bank of Pakistan with the help of AJK banks will offer low markups loans to entrepreneurs willing to invest in the tourism sector, he added.

Sardar Masood Khan also informed that the AJK Government had throughout the years organised photo and video exhibitions, jeep rallies, tourism galas, food festivals and road shows all over Pakistan to showcase its beauty and help attract tourists to visit AJK.