A five-day snow festival kicked off amid scores of tourists from all over the country at the scenic ski resort in Malam Jabba on Wednesday.
Chief Minister (CM) Pervez Khattak and Major General Javed Bukhari inaugurated the opening ceremony of the festival which was organised by the army in collaboration with the provincial government.
On the occasion, the CM said serious efforts are being undertaken for the revival and promotion of tourism in the region.
“Today, I feel happy to visit this scenic tourist resort. Promotion of tourism is the top priority of our government and we are taking major steps in this regard,” he said in his address at the opening ceremony. “Several tourist-friendly projects will soon be launched, including another ski resort, a chairlift and a four-star hotel in Malam Jabba.”
Khattak also added that substantial measures are being taken to streamline the education, health and tourism departments of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
“We will never allow the youth’s trust in us to fade. I promise we are working to introduce a proper system in government institutions from which the public will be served,” he said.
Brigadier Sohail Nasir said Swat is the most beautiful tourist resort in the country, however, terrorists had tried to disfigure it.
“With the sacrifices of our soldiers and the people of Swat, peace has now been restored in the paradise-like valley where life has come to normalcy,” he said. The resort was attacked several times and completely destroyed by militants in 2008 when Swat was undergoing an insurgency.
Lured by the picturesque snow-capped mountains in Malam Jabba, tourists were excited to witness the winter sports.
“The excitement we feel right now cannot be expressed in words. I was stunned to see the white mountains and the ski resort, it is really enchanting to see this side of nature and Swat,” said Afaq Hussain, a visitor from Lahore, while talking to The Express Tribune.
Apart from ski competitions, ski facilities for tourists, snowmobile rides, tobogganing, aeromodelling and paragliding have been arranged as part of the festival to attract tourists.
The snow festival will continue till March 16.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 13th, 2014.