Tourism convention urges federal govt to resolve GB’s energy woes

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ISLAMABAD: Speakers at tourism webinar urged the Imran Khan-led federal authorities to resolve the longstanding electrical energy problems with Gilgit-Baltistan if it needs to spice up tourism.

Journalist Jamil Nagri, whereas addressing “Tourism in Pakistan — Challenges and the Way Forward” convention, stated that the area usually acquired simply between two to 4 hours of electrical energy throughout the day. He added that the state of affairs turned harsher within the winters.

He additionally stated that there have been critical connectivity and internet-related points within the area which wanted to be mounted by the federal government.

Nagri stated that the there was an absence of infrastructure and connectivity within the area and the federal government has to enhance it. He additionally cited the shortage of air and street connectivity with the remainder of the nation.

“The KKH (Karakoram Highway) is the lifeline of GB and whenever it gets blocked, thousands of people are stranded, including foreign tourists. There are flights only to Gilgit and Skardu. The government should consider allowing direct international flights to these cities to boost foreign tourist inflows,” stated the journalist.

The basic secretary of the Tour Operations Association of Gilgit Baltistan, Neknam Karim, stated that Hunza was getting solely two megawatts of electrical energy regardless of a requirement of 26 megawatts.

He stated that whereas the electrical energy state of affairs in Chitral was higher, due to a number of micro hydel initiatives, however the state of affairs was the other in GB.

“Tourism planning is important but there’s no planning of any kind. Look at the example of Murree and the kind of construction that has taken place there. There’s no effort being made to integrate it with the natural environment,” he lamented.

He urged the federal government to ask tourism consultants for session to formulate a coverage that had the potential to surpass the nation’s textile sector exports.

“The officials should invite industry experts to chalk out a blueprint on tourism policy. We can boost our international tourism by taking a few necessary steps. If we do so, we can surpass our textile sector growth” he added.

Ammar Habib Khan, a famous economist, was of the view that the atmosphere was not good within the nation for overseas funding.

“If you can’t do what’s required then step aside and let the private sector come in and fill the gas,” he stated.

“If the government cannot provide services like power on its own then it should let the private sector come in – given the way the population is spread out and not concentrated, a power plant is not a good idea – but for localised generation solutions,” he added.

Nagri, whereas agreeing with Ammar, recommended that the federal government ought to encourage public-private partnership to repair the system. He additionally stated that there was a critical electrical energy shortfall within the area.

“There’s loadshedding of 20-22 hours in Gilgit Baltistan in the winter as well. Everything is connected to electricity and with this kind of load shedding you can imagine – in the winter most of the streams are frozen so hydel projects don’t work.”

“I agree that the habit of paying bills is somewhat low in GB but that’s also because people try to use other sources of fuel — but the whole system is bad because electricity comes only 2 hours a day — if it comes for so less then there will be issues.”

He additionally stated that overseas climbers needed to watch for months to get the inexperienced sign for his or her expedition in Pakistan.

Sirajul Mulk, proprietor of Chitral’s famed Hindukush Heights Hotel, stated that he had arrange his hydropower era plant to fill the hole.

“The electricity system in Chitral is very different from that in Gilgit Baltistan, where they don’t pay their electricity bills — in Chitral, there is more discipline — everyone pays their bills in Chitral even though the rate is the same as in other cities.”

To a query, he stated: “We’ve never had as many tourists from within Pakistan in this past winter as we’ve had this winter – and that’s because these people go abroad but they couldn’t because of Covid – so they explored their own country.”

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