ISLAMABAD: The Gilgit-Baltistan government and National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to promote tourism in the region.

The MoU will cater to the need for development of accommodation facilities for more than one million tourists, who visit the area annually, through the home stay financing programme, ‘NBP Maizbaan’.

The programme offers soft loans ranging from Rs375,000 to Rs1.30 million to the locals residing near the tourist spots for construction of up to three-room structures near their houses to rent out to tourists visiting the area. The locals would also get finances to construct small units attached to their houses.

The 10-year loan programme will have a minimum of 8 per cent interest along with 2pc service charges. It includes loans up to Rs375,000 for a one-bedroom accommodation with an attached washroom, Rs800,000 for two bedrooms with one washroom and Rs1.30m for three bedrooms with one washroom.

The concept paper of the “homestay financing” prepared by the GB government highlighted that it was a popular tourism concept in countries like Nepal and Tajikistan.

A similar programme has been introduced by the Pak­istan Poverty Allevia­tion Fund in the remote Neel­­um valley of Azad Jammu and Kashmir for the locals to ho­­use tourist families and en­­hance their earnings in a de­­cent manner, while the fa­­m­ilies visiting the region could avail safe and secure stay.

Published in Dawn, February 19th, 2021

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