The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has issued a travel advisory and guideline for tourist planning to visit popular hilly stations / northern areas this winter in order to avoid any untoward incident, especially since snowfall season has begun in the northern areas of the country.
The travel advisory states that a large number of tourists to popular tourist destinations such as Murree, Galiyat, Abbottabad, Gilgit-Baltistan, Narran, Kaghan and other Northern Areas are expected this winter, therefore, there is dire need to adopt pro-active measures apart from fore-warning / guidance against likely developing situation and take requisite precautionary measures.
Travel Advisory For Tourists
NDMA advised tourists to check weather forecasts, websites, and social media handlers of the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD), NDMA, and respective region specific websites / alerts for updates. Furthermore, the tourists are requested to contact the National Highways & Motorway Police (NH&MP) on their helpline or check out their website for updates regarding status road conditions of the intended route.
The travel advisory also recommends that travels should properly maintain their vehicles, carry anti-skid chains, a spare tire (checked and filled with required air pressure) and keep fluid for the radiator as well as other lubricants as advised by the mechanic for their journey.
Moreover, travelers should carry basic necessities like drinking water and enough snacks / food (especially dry food items) which can suffice for basic needs of all accompanying travelers for a period of 24 hours. There should be enough warn clothing for all passengers to keep warm during extreme weather conditions and provide an option of changing into dry clothes, if required.
NDMA Travel Advisory recommends that travelers keep passage for fresh air circulation through air conditions mechanism or keeping a window slightly ajar and they are directed follow the guidance arrangements of the National Highway and Motorway Police (NH&MP), FWO, and traffic police for ensuring safety during traveling.
Ensure availability of accommodation and seek prior confirmation from hotel / guestroom for reservations before departing on trip, including:
- Prevailing situation in the area, such as, on ground impacts of current weather.
- Road condition and diversions, if any.
- Traffic flow pattern and busy / rush hours to avoid traffic jams.
- Availability of medical and health facilities, especially if any member of the family is suffering from chronic ailment / condition which may require immediate medical attention.
Advisory For Local Administration and Hotel Management
The NDMA has also issued an advisory for the local authorities and hotel management to keep their monitoring and reporting mechanisms active at all times, especially in sensitive areas. It advised local authorities to look after communities in hazard prone areas by enabling round the clock monitoring and feedback system for early warnings and alerts.
It is advised to prepare general as well as area specific awareness campaigns and ensure widespread propagation of likely threats / hazards. Furthermore, the concerned authorities should work with NHA/ FWO, local C&W and line departments to devise and pre-place appropriate machinery at vulnerable/ choke points.
Local administration needs to assess and plan deployment of additional resources and exercise control over vehicle movement leading to and in vicinity of vulnerable/ choke points to prevent losses/ damages and save precious lives. It is further advised that medical resources; paramedics, equipment and medicine be deployed as per the vulnerability/ risks identified in different regions to meet respective regional requirements.
The authorities have been directed to activate tourists’ facilitation centers and Emergency Operations Centers (EOCs) and devise city-based snow clearance and traffic management plans, especially in snow prone areas likely to face greater influx of tourists.
It is recommended to coordinate with local hotel and transport associations for facilitating travels, tourists and locals in case of emergency. Moreover, LEAs along with traffic police are requested to advise travelers regarding likely situations / dangers of road closure/ slippery conditions and use of precautionary measures.
Travelers and tourists should be forewarned about likely risks posed at vulnerable locations.