PESHAWAR: As part of efforts to revive the once flourishing tourism sector in the battered Swat Valley in Pakistan, the Kalam Hotel Association has offered a 10-day free stay package at hotels in the tourist destinations of Madyan, Bahrain and Kalam starting with the New Year, according to a press release issued by the Pakistan Embassy in Colombo.
The association has asked tourists to visit the scenic valleys of Swat from January 1 to 10 and get free stay for 10 days. The summer tourism season ended a while ago in the valley but hoteliers said it was an effort to attract sightseers to Swat, once the hotspot of tourism. They said it would also promote winter tourism as people could enjoy the snowfall.
General Secretary of the hotel association Rahmatuddin Sadique said the government had also agreed to build a ski resort in Kalam.
Sadique said they had finalised all arrangements to provide free stay to the visitors. “We have selected five hotels in Kalam alone and will offer more if needed,” he said. The NWFP Tourism Department, he said, would set up an information centre for tourists at Landakay, the entry point to Swat. About checkpoints from Mingora to Kalam, he said there were 20-25 checkpoints but the military authorities had assured them to reduce their number to encourage tourists. “It may not produce income for us but will generate some economic activity in Swat,” Sadique hoped, according to the press release.
He said the tourists would buy food, fruits, embroideries and other local goods and thus help in reviving the economy. Provincial Minister Ayub Ashari said it was the hotel association’s initiative and he and MPA Jaffar Shah are facilitating it. He said Miadam, Madyan, Bahrain and Kalam were not only receiving snowfall, an attraction for tourists in winter, but these tourist attractions had not suffered any damage during the recent years of militancy. “People were not coming here because the road to these areas was running through the troubled areas of Swat,” he explained.