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AJK Govt. Tourism Secy. Midhat Shahzad reiterates State Govt.’s resolve not to leave tourism sector in the times of despair

1st September 2020 | Altaf Hamid Rao
RAWALAKOT (AJK): (Parliament Times) Azad Jammu & Kashmir government Tourism & Information Secretary Mihdat Shahzad said that the government will leave no stone unturned for the rehabilitation and promotion of the tourism sector in the picturesque liberated territory and it cannot be put at the mercy of circumstances but its rehabilitation and development has given a top priority.

“The Government of AJ&K will extend all possible cooperation for the rehabilitation and with the cooperation of the private sector, this sector will be taken to new heights as it has become the backbone of the AJ&K’s economy”, the Secretary Tourism made these assurances while addressing a roundtable conference jointly organized by Center for Peace, Development and Reforms (CPDR) and Poonch Chamber of Commerce and Industry at Rawalakot on Tuesday.

Our special AJK Correspondent Altaf Hamid Rao reports from Rawalakot that the round table conference was organized with prime focus to discuss the impact and remedies of Covid-19 on the tourism sector in AJ&K which was attended by notables from cross-sections of the civil society, district administration and other government institutions that deal directly with tourism.

Lauding the hosting of the interactive seminar jointly organized by CPDR and the Poonch Chamber, the second in series and both organizers vowed to continue to facilitate the engagement between civil society and government institutions on issues of public importance, Midhat Shehzad advised the organizations working in the tourism sector in the State to must ensure their due registrations at the earliest to be eligible for onward securing due government determined packages and assistance.

Speaking on the occasion, Executive Director of CPDR, Ershad Mahmud said that one of the major obstacles in the growth of tourism sector in AJ&K is the lack of high-speed 4G internet and the branding of AJ&K as a conflict-torn area with grave security concerns. Ershad’s views were echoed by several other participants as well and they shared their analysis on why tourism hasn’t been able to pick up in recent months. Speaking on the occasion, Commissioner Poonch, Abdul Hameed Mughal praised CPDR and Poonch Chamber of Commerce for taking the discourse between government and citizens to an advanced level and briefed the audience on how the district and division administration under his command has dealt with aftershocks of Covid-19. Deputy Inspector General Poonch, Sardar Rashid Nayeem, Chairman Board of Investment AJK, Sardar Naveed Sadiq, Deputy Commissioner Poonch, Arshad Mahmood Jarral, President Poonch Chamber of Commerce, Sardar Imran Aziz and academicians, tourism experts and archaeologists including Dr. Rukhsana Khan, Dr. Shaheen Akhtar, Dr Aftab Rana were also present on the occasion. Dr. Rukhsana along with other experts emphasized the need for promotion of cultural tourism and also stressed the need for eco-friendly tourism in AJK so that heritage sites and serenity of tourism sites isn’t impacted.

Poonch Chamber of Commerce had invited several business leaders to this event and they vowed to invest in the tourism sector but asked the policymakers to consult the chambers and other business circles before making tourism policy. Sardar Shazib Shabbir, Owner of Gulf Empire and President Poonch Chamber Imran Aziz focused on the need for swift mechanisms to ensure transparent public-private partnerships especially in the tourism sector and them along with owners of hotels and guesthouses asked the government to arrange proper training sessions of the service delivery staff working in the tourism sector.

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