About 10,000 tourists are attending the five-day Swat Summer Festival that started in Kalam Valley on Thursday.
The tourists, who seemed to be awe-inspired by the lush-green valley, could be seen enjoying the event that featured several entertaining activities such as horse racing. The pleasant weather enhanced the experience, making for an ideal day of leisure.
“This place is so beautiful I don’t even have words to describe it,” said Mrs Shahzad, who had come with her family from Islamabad.
For many, this is the first time they have been to Swat. They were quite taken in by the beauty on offer. “This place is truly a paradise. I’ve never been so close to nature before. The weather is amazing and the people are nice and hospitable. I’m having the time of my life,” said one such visitor.
With the tourists enjoying the festival, local hoteliers and businessmen seem to be making the most out of the situation as well. With a sudden inflow of tourists, hotels have been fully booked and people could be seen camping near the Swat River.
“All hotels were fully occupied so we have hired a tent instead. It’s a completely new experience for us,” said Akbar Niazi, a tourist from Multan.
Kalam Hotel Association General Secretary Rehmat Din Siddiqui said, “Nearly 15,000 people in Kalam were left unemployed by the floods and militancy during which we suffered a great deal. Now that conditions have improved, we are thankful to the Pakistan Army and the provincial government for pulling off such a huge event.”
Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Ameer Haider Hoti, the chief guest, was “impressed” with the attendance, which “sends a clear message of peace to the whole world”. He also said that the government has approved an amount of Rs6 billion for the construction of Kalam Road.
Malakand Division General Officer Commanding Major General Ghulam Qamar appreciated the government’s cooperation in organising the event. Giving credit to the army engineers, he said the Mahodand Lake is accessible for all sorts of vehicles for the first time in history. He also added that they plan to develop a tourists resort at the site to promote tourism.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 14th, 2012.
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