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Tourism in AJK can put state on path of progress, prosperity, Sardar Masood

Khizar Hayat Abbasi
MUZAFFARABAD:(Parliament Times) Terming Azad Jammu and Kashmir as one of the most beautiful regions of the world in terms of sheer natural beauty and hospitable climate, AJK President Sardar Masood Khan said promotion of tourism can put the state on the path of self-reliance.
He said that tourism sector in AJK has immense potential to absorb large number of educated and youth in the job market by creating employment opportunities in the hospitality industry.
He expressed these views after a briefing given to him by Director General Tourism Sardar Javed Ayyub about the steps being taken by government to develop the tourism sector.
Describing government’s decision to construct 200 kilometers long Tourism Corridor from Saran in Jehlum Valley to Devi Galli in Poonch district as an important milestone, the President said that the corridor will have far reaching positive impacts on the economy of Azad Kashmir as it will connect important places of tourism attraction to one another through reliable roads network.
“All the places positioned along the corridor are far away from Line of Control and, hence it will be the safest area for sightseers to visit and stay in peaceful and secured environment,” President Masood said.Saying that there are many countries in the world whose economy is solely depending on the income from tourism, the president said same can be achieved in Azad Kashmir by developing basic infrastructure for the promotion of tourism. He said that government is in touch with Chinese officials to get the project included in the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)
Earlier Director General Tourism Sardar Javed Ayub told the president that every year 1.2 to 1.5 Million tourist visit Azad Kashmir and most of them preferred to go to Neelum Valley to enjoy the natural beauty of the area and its hospitable weather. Majority of the tourists comes to Azad Kashmir from big cities of Pakistan including Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar and Faisalabad.
Explaining the proposed Tourism Corridor project, Director General Tourism said that corridor will start from Sarran in Jehlum Valley and will end Devi Gali after passing through the peaks of Ganga Choti, Haji Pir, Toli Pir and other important places of tourist attraction.
The DG Tourism said that besides construction of the landmark tourism corridor, AJK Tourism department is also taking important steps for promotion of tourism in the southern districts of Mirpur, Bhimber and Kotli by rehabilitating the historical forts and other archeological places in the area.
The tourism department, he added, will also start water sports in Mangla Lake. Sardar Javed Ayyub further told that a pilot project of eco-tourism has also been launched in Sardari Village of Neelum Valley where the members of local community will be provided small loans to construct an additional room with their homes to rent the room to the tourists visiting the area.

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