Murree- the queen of hills which has welcomed over 1.2 million tourists across the country in just 40 days soon after normalizing lockdown situation, proved to be the one of the best places for domestic sightseers.
The soaring heat amid frequently rising temperatures during monsoon season had badly perturbed the masses restricted under lockdown who had thronged to the scenic hill station to satiate their thirst for cool and fresh vibes.
Pakistan’s most popular hill station Murree is located along Islamabad-Kohala highway N75, some 30 km (19 mi) northeast of Pakistan’s capital in the Himalayan foothills.
An official of Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) Mukhtar Ahmed said that, Murree’s adjoining areas like Galiyat, Bhurban, Ayubia and Nathiagali had received 1.2 million visitors soon after lifting of coronavirus restrictions and there were also expectations to see a huge influx of visitors during next month as educational institutes are still closed.
He said that after the government lifted coronavirus restrictions across the country, the tourism sector was seen coming out of the lurch after a hiatus of five months.
He said that the reopening of the tourism industry would help compensate businesses for the lost income and would help the country’s economy to recover faster.
Murree experiences an influx of tourists throughout the year but due to COVID-19 there was lockdown and people could not go there but currently famous places such as Mall Road, Pindi Point, Kashmir Point, Patriata (New Murree), Ayubia and Nathiagali were full of visitors. ”Murree’s economy relies heavily on tourism during the tourist season, which runs from early January to mid-October,” he added.
He said that for almost five months resorts business was completely shut down due to lockdown. Murree is one of the most visited hill stations of Pakistan for those who live in plain areas or outside it.
Murree is like a fantasy city as mountains are covered with lush green trees, beautiful valleys and most importantly clouds on the roads gives immense joy and Murree is also a transit point for passengers traveling to Azad Kashmir or Abbottabad and people come from different cities to spend their time in a calm and serene environment.
Mukhtar said that the tourists thronged at Pindi Point, Kashmir Point, the Mall and Ayubia, adding that the hill station attracted a huge crowd after lockdown.
Currently restaurants in Murree are packed with tourists and there are expectations of more visitors till October which will increase business activities.
An Owner of a resort Asim Muhammad Khan said that lockdown was imposed in Murree in March, under which tourists were banned from entering the hill resort so for five months his hotel was shuttered down during peak season when they used to earn the most. “But after the lifting of lockdown their business was flourishing more as thousands of visitors on a daily basis were being witnessed to stay at Murree.”
He claimed that tourism’ sector flourished in the summers in Murree as in these months hundreds of thousands of people make their plans to visit the hill station. He further said that a large number of visitors were seen wearing protective masks besides following other SOPs.
Wasi Ahmad, a tourist from Rawalpindi, said “I am very happy as we had to wait for five months to come here to see the breathtaking views and to escape from roasting heat”. He suggested ensuring more facilities for incoming tourists from the public sector. Another visitor Kashif Haroon said ,“We enjoyed a lot, as there the weather is much refreshing here and clouds running on roads are so mesmerizing, He said, “still visitors need to follow strict SOPs to avoid any complication.”