Swat Summer Festival to promote tourism: Khetran
KALAM: Managing Director of Pakistan Tourism Development Cooperation (PTDC) Mir Shahjahan Khetran has said that Swat Summer Festival would help promote tourism and project soft image of the country. “Holding of such events would create a positive impression about Pakistan that would be carried forward by the tourists, particularly those coming from abroad,” he said this addressing a ceremony to reopen Kalam Motel.
The summer festival was organised by the Pakistan Army in collaboration with the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and PTDC.
However, he said, while celebrating the event, the people of Swat have not forgotten the sacrifices rendered by Pakistan army to restore peace in the area.
He also urged the tourists from across the country to come to the scenic valley and enjoy the pleasant atmosphere and scenic beauty of the area. Appreciating the holding of Swat Summer Festival the MD said, “our cultural heritage is matchless and this mega event indeed offers highly attractive and interesting features of it
He added that for the past two years, Swat Valley was peaceful and with the local administration and security agencies’ efforts, life in Swat has returned to normal.
To a question he said that despite the international media’s projection of a negative image of Pakistan, the PTDC achieved its targets to promote domestic tourism.
Tourist traffic to Murree, Galiat, Ayubia, Kaghan and Swat valley considerably increased during 2011 and 2012, while Pakistani tourists are now visiting new destinations like Gilgit, Hunza, Fairy Meadows, Rama Lake, Chitral, Kalash and Shandur valleys, he said.
He said PTDC has launched its summer tour packages again and announced special rates for its hotels, motels and resorts situated in the most attractive tourist destinations in the country.
“To promote Pakistan’s tourism industry and create a positive image of the country internationally, PTDC participated in the United Nations World Trade Organisation (UNWTO) Conference, World Islamic Tourism Mart in Malaysia, South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Tour Operators Conclave in India and the SAARC Travel and Tourism Mart in Bangladesh” he informed.
The PTDC MD announced a 30% discount on accommodation in its Ayubia and Naran Resorts during the holy month of Ramadan. Further, around 50% discount is being offered on accommodation during Ramadan in PTDC Motels at Saidu Sharif, Miandam, Chitral, Bamburet (Kalash Valley), Mastuj, Phandar, Gupis, Gilgit, Hunza, Sost (Pak-China border), Rama Lake, Skardu, Khaplu and Besham.
The valley’s improved law and order situation has positively affected the tourism industry and Pakistani tourists are now rediscovering the beauty of Swat.
To a question he expressed hope that new government would focus on the promotion of tourism in the country. However, he appealed the government to bring constitutional amendment to keep tourism ministry with the centre as across the globe tourism ministry is being run by the federation.
Answering another query, he said the PTDC was facing financial crunch and urged the government to allocate funds to help this organization to become self-reliance. He said two month salary has been paid to employees while efforts were underway to pay remaining eight month salary. About the strike being observed by the employees of Naran, Balakot hotels, he said, two month salary would be paid soon to these employees.
The summer festival comprises the adventurous sports including parajumps and air shows, acrobatics by SSG, tent pegging tournaments, paragliding, motorised gliding, hand gliding, remote control flying, bungee jumping, rock climbing, repelling and water sports, including water scooter and jet boat riding, and archery. Activities also included archery, bike races, dirt bike rally, jeep rally from Kalam to Mahudand Lake, marathon for environmental protection, wall net climbing, cross country, cycling and canoeing.
It also featured a musical concert by local artists, fireworks, kiteflying boating, fishing, trained dog shows, Punjab Rangers drill show, dance with fire, Mil Band display, comedy shows and horse riding.
In order to give the event a traditional touch, there were Khattak and Chitral dances on display, and all regional dances of Pakistan, including Luddi, Torwali and Makrani were also put on show.