PESHAWAR: Chief Minister Mahmood Khan has approved home hospitality scheme at tourist hotspots to reduce pressure on hotels and help the local community reap the dividends of fast flourishing tourism sector in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The scheme, to be initially launched in KP’s three districts — Swat, Chitral and Mansehra — envisages giving small loans to local households to build 500 rooms having all amenities to cater to the tourists’ needs, a senior official of the tourism department said.
Prime Minister Imran Khan, who was on a daylong trip to Swat on Friday, was given a full briefing on the home hospitality scheme.
“The prime minister seemed exceedingly pleased with the concept and appreciated it,” the official said.
Official says project to be initially launched in Swat, Chitral and Mansehra
“This is like Airbnb on a local scale,” explained Abid Majeed, secretary department of tourism and culture, government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, while referring to an American online marketplace for home stays and hospitality.
“The scheme has a huge upside potential with a byproduct of engaging people of the area within the framework of tourism policy of KP,” he said.
He said homestay tourism offered an accommodation where a tourist got a chance to live with the host family and experienced the local culture.
He said a total of 500 rooms would be established in all the three districts at a tentative cost of Rs200 million, approximately Rs400,000 for each room complete with all facilities.
Those rooms, he added, would be established and renovated according to the standard parametres.
The secretary said the proposed amount would be disbursed on interest-free loan basis to selected households through the Bank of Khyber.
He said the proposed home would be within five kilometres vicinity of the main trade centre in the area where other hotels existed and that the potential applicants should have a reasonable education level as preference would be given to educated families.
He said repayment of loan period would be up to five years depending on assessment of the area and entrepreneur. With one hotel room for every 5,500 inhabitants, Pakistan has fewer hotel rooms per capita than Egypt (1:98), Indonesia (1:65) and every other comparable country of its size.
The secretary said funds from youth affairs schemes of similar nature would also be utilised to help educated young men of less than 29 years of age.
“This will have a tourist multiplier effect,” he pointed out. “The government will also think of loans for the camping pods too which can be set up in a three- to five-marla plots,” he said. “We are endeavouring to bring tourists to the doorsteps of our famed hospitality,” he added.
“This is the first time that we are trying to help the local community to reap the dividends of tourism in their own areas and own tourism. It will also offer tourists an opportunity to find relatively cheap accommodation, away from the often congested hustle and bustle of main tourist centres, and get a taste of local culture and hospitality.”
NEED TO STRENGTHEN EATA: Chief Minister Mahmood Khan on Saturday stressed the need to enhance the overall capacity of Educational Testing and Evaluation Agency (Etea) with the aim to enable it effectively cope with the increasing requirements of testing and evaluation for recruitment in the government departments and admissions in educational institutions.
He directed the relevant authorities for necessary steps in this regard so the agency could be strengthened on modern lines, according to a statement issued here.
The chief minister was chairing the 28th meeting of Eata board of governors. He said all issues being faced by Etea would be resolved on priority so that it could perform its responsibilities with efficiency while maintaining the highest degree of transparency.
CM’s adviser on higher education Kamran Bangash, Higher Education Department secretary Mohammad Dawood, secretary health Imtiaz Hussain Shah, Etea executive director Sharafat Rabbani and other members of the board of governors attended the meeting.
Published in Dawn, November 8th, 2020