PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government is set to present a bill to the cabinet that proposes to establish a culture and tourism authority and a provincial tourism strategy board to better regulate, develop and promote tourism and culture in the province.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Tourism Bill, 2019 is expected to be presented on Friday (today) to the provincial cabinet for approval. It is aimed at providing a legal framework for development, standard setting, promotion, management and marketing of the culture and tourism in the province, according to the copy of the draft bill.

The bill proposes setting up a ‘provincial tourism strategy board’ with chief minister as its chairman and comprising ministers and secretaries of tourism culture, sports, youth, archaeology and museums, finance, wildlife and environment department while three members will appointed by the chairman from private sector and a member-cum-secretary of ‘culture and tourism authority’ that would be formed under this proposed law.

Culture and tourism authority and tourism strategy board to be formed in KP under the proposed law

Provincial Minister Atif Khan told Dawn that the bill was an important piece of legislation that would rid the government of problems it was facing in promotion of tourism and culture despite rich potential.

“The tourist spots need to be safeguarded as every year we see surge in tourists but these areas are deteriorating. Legal framework would help to protect these spots by zoning and implementing building bylaws besides many other measures,” he said.

The legislation would bring all the departments concerned together to make their efforts cohesive and discuss the strategy for promotion and development of tourism and culture besides resolving the problems in its way.

The proposed law says that provincial government on the recommendation of provincial tourism strategy board shall have the power to declare, by notification in the official gazette, any area within the province, as an ‘integrated tourism zone’.

The minister said that just like export processing zones or industrial zones, the bill proposed integrated tourism zones that would be dedicated to tourism-related activities only.

“We have many tourist destinations but lack legal framework to protect these places. So we would be setting up integrated tourism zones or dedicated areas for tourism development like hotels and so on,” he said.

The bill proposes a Peshawar-based tourism and culture authority that would take over the administrative, financial and regulatory control of all the activities, offices, projects, centres etc of the tourism corporation, culture and tourist services directorates and Pakistan Austrian Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management.

The authority’s main functions would be to promote, preserve and revive cultural heritage, cultural traditions, values, festivals and dialects. It would formulate guidelines and prescribe measures for sustainable tourism, regulate tourism products and services and promote cultural and religious heritage as well as promote and protect cultural and religious diversity of the province.

The authority would take measures to promote and preserve tangible and intangible cultural assets, values and traditions of the province. It will register, licence and grade all hotels in the province.

The authority would ensure development of high quality tourism sector, map, record, document and publish cultural assets of the province and provide facilities, incentives, services and recreation to tourists, regulate travel agencies, travel agents, tour operators and tourist guides in the prescribed manner.

In connection with integrated tourism zones, the authority would develop, publish and implement regulations in respect of spatial planning, building codes and continuity of local architecture.

It would approve and notify any measure to control entry into any integrated tourism zone to preserve and sustain either cultural identity of a zone or to sustain carrying capacity of such zone.

The authority would develop, publish and implement regulations in respect of municipal obligations, forests, mountains, water features, lakes, waterfalls, flora and fauna, wildlife and biodiversity.

Tourism police would also work under the authority.

Naeem Safi, a culture expert, who has worked with federal and provincial government in culture promotion sector, said that the proposed law provided for a tourism and culture strategy board that would help to coordinate efforts of government departments. He said that it would also make people understand that culture was not just dance and music and there were many other aspects of life that formed their culture and needed preservation as well as promotion.

Published in Dawn, August 9th, 2019