PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government has prepared a plan for the protection and up-gradation of nine archaeological sites to promote religious tourism in the province.
The provincial government has launched a $70 million KITE project for the Integrated Tourism Development Project in collaboration with the World Bank and the International Development Association aimed at sustainable tourism in the province.
Director Archeology Dr Abdul Samad told Pakistan Today that before 9/11, a large number of tourists were visiting Buddhist places of worship in KP, but due to the law and order situation, the number of religious tourists has decreased.
He said that the promotion of tourism in the province will create more job opportunities.
Dr Samad added that after the law and order situation in KP improved, the arrival of tourists from Korea, Japan and Thailand resumed, but now the coronavirus has once again reduced the influx of tourist.
Latifur Rehman, a spokesman for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Tourism Authority, said that the project aims to promote and preserve archaeological sites, culture and religious tourism in the province.
Under the agreement, the sites to be rehabilitated are of global importance, including the Bhamala Khanpur, Shapola Stupa in Khyber District, Jamrud Fort District Khyber, three historic mosques in Swat, the historic Kalam Mosque, Udigram Mosque, Hund Museum Swabi, Chakdara Museum Dir Lower and Mardan Museum.
He further said that the activities undertaken under the agreement include conservation work, preservation of existing archaeological remains, expansion of existing buildings, and the establishment of information centres for tourist facilities, tuck shops, souvenir shops, cafeterias, road construction, toilets, parking lots, and benches.
Rehman said that the Directorate of Archeology is also working on other issues, including the institutional strengthening in the province.
He said that 540 signboards have been installed in 10 districts of the province. So far 69 signboards have been installed in Mardan while 62 information are being installed at archaeological sites in Takht Bhai, Jamal Garhi and Shahbaz Garhi.
At the same time, 130 signboards will be installed at various places in Swat so that visitors and tourists can reach these places easily.