Under the title of “Engage Local Community and Youth in Safeguarding Heritage and Promote Heritage Entrepreneurship through Capacity building and Awareness Raising at Rohtas Fort” A one week training workshop was jointly organized by STFP and UNSECO Pakistan from 2nd to 8th March 2021. This training program was also supported by Punjab Department of Archaeology and District Administration of Jhelum. 18 male and 2 female members from local community participated in this training Program. Mr. Aftab Rana, Mr. Arif Tufail and Mr. Muhammad Bin Naveed conducted various sessions of this training as resource persons. Prof Z. B. Mirza, also participated as guest speaker and delivered a talk on the wildlife of the Salt Range area.
The main goal of this training was to build the capacity of local community tourist guides to gain professional knowledge and skills and adopt a positive attitude to play active role in safeguarding World Heritage Site of Rohtas Fort. This training course was comprised on procedural knowledge and technical skills which a cultural tourist guide should have to professionally conduct a group of tourists at the heritage site of Rohtas Fort. Knowledge about tourism sector, Pakistan as a tourist destination, cultural and heritage diversity of Potohar region, environment and cultural ethics and responsible tourism practices were part of knowledge component of this course. Tour group management, sharing information with tourists in an interesting way, leading group of tourists in a safe and comfortable manner, communication skills, basic first aid, making arrangements for transport, lodging and boarding, establishing good security of visitors, understating of tourism related laws and dealing with general emergencies were the major component of the skills development part of this training. Moreover, effort was made to motive the trainee guides to adopt a positive attitude towards safeguarding cultural heritage themselves and also to inculcate the same spirit among the visitors.
The closing ceremony of this event was held on the afternoon of 8th March at Rohtas Resort. Mr. Rao Pervaiz Akhtar, Deputy Commissioner of Jhelum attended as Chief Guest and Ms. Partrica Mc Phillips, Director of UNESCO Pakistan attended as Guest of Honor. On this occasion, newly trained tourists guides also gave a demonstration trip of Rohtas Fort to Ms. Patricia which she highly appreciated. In her closing comments, she said that Pakistan’s diverse cultural heritage is at risk due to vandalism, neglect and lack of understanding of the high potential for cultural and economic development opportunities. She said, we support local communities taking ownership of their heritage. In this project we brought together students, teachers, government officials and most importantly local communities to find solutions to protect Rohtas fort to increase the economic prosperity of the community through responsible tourism and to incorporate the importance of the collective heritage ownership. She thanked the team of STFP for making this great contribution to significantly bring a positive change among the local community members. She also appreciated the local community members for taking interest in this initiative and she hoped that this will open gates for them towards better local economic growth.
Mr. Rao Pervaiz Akhtar, Deputy Commissioner of Jhelum appreciated the efforts of STFP. He said, the torchbearer, Mr. Rana Aftab and his team did a wonderful job by building capacity of the local people of Rohtas. He said, UNESCO Pakistan also deserves appreciation for launching this program for the betterment of the local people. He said, the district of Jhelum is a hub of cultural heritage and Rohtas as a World Heritage site is the most significant historical monument of this region. He said, Rohtas is also special as a local community live inside this fort and it is their duty and responsibility that they should play active role in the preservation of this World Heritage site