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Govt to provide internet services at tourist spots in GB, KP

ISLAMABAD: The federal government has decided to provide internet facilities to several tourist spots in Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) to promote tourism in the country.

According to the IT & Telecom Secretary, the Universal Service Fund has been approved a ‘special connectivity project’ to provide basic telecom and internet services at tourist spots, including  Deosai National Park, Saiful Malook Lake,  Babusar Top, Kumrat Valley and Rama Lake Astore.

On Friday during the meeting, IT & Telecom Secretary and Universal Service Fund (USF) Board Chairman Shoaib Ahmad Siddiqui noted that the main issue with tourist areas was that the number of users increased significantly during the summer months, whereas the number of resident users remained low.

The new programme, titled ‘Next Generation Broadband for Sustainable Development Program for Tourist Locations’, will go a long way in the promotion of tourism in the country,” he maintained.

USF Chief Executive Officer Haaris Mahmood Chaudhary briefed the meeting about the provision of high-speed mobile broadband services in tourist areas including Babusar Top, Lake Saiful Malook and Sharan Forest in Mansehra district, Kumrat Valley in Upper Dir district, Mahodand Lake in Swat district and several areas in Galiyat, Hazara Division.

The project will not only ensure the provision of ICT services to domestic and foreign tourists but will also play a significant role in sending timely responses to the concerned agencies in case of an emergency, he added.

The board decided that a team of USF experts, KP tourism department and telecom officials would jointly determine the base price for the auction of IT infrastructure development projects in these areas.

It is worth mentioning here that the IT minister Syed Aminul Haque had earlier forwarded a proposal in this regard to the USF Board on the directives of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Aminul Haque had advised the USF board to launch special projects at key tourist spots saying connectivity in the modern era is like any other crucial utility required to promote local and international tourism.