After being named the top tourist destination in the world by a top international magazine and expecting a large influx of visitors during the next tourist season, the provincial government on Tuesday announced a plan to provide support to locals in the tourist hot spots of Swat, Chitral and Hazara to convert their homes to welcome these vacationers.
Moreover, locals will also be provided with tourism-related training.
This was announced by the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Senior Tourism Minister Atif Khan on Tuesday while addressing a function on tourism and strengthening the youth of the newly-merged districts.
Atif said that in hill stations and valleys of Swat, Chitral and Hazara, they will provide locals with monetary support in the form of grants or loans of up to Rs1 million to spruce up their homes and to equip them to accept tourists.
Noting that international tourists have started to come to the country, he said that the government was not undertaking serious steps to promote the tourism sector.
For this purpose, he said that as many as 14 new tourist destinations have been discovered in the province while they have allocated Rs5 billion for the construction of roads leading to these tourist spots.
Moreover, he said that four tourism zones are being set up where facilities at par with international standards will be provided to tourists.
The senior minister further said that the development of merged areas was the top priority of the provincial and the federal governments. In this regard, a host of development schemes have been introduced for in the erstwhile federally administered tribal areas (Fata).
For this purpose, the minister said that the tourism department has approved funds worth Rs9 billion for the promotion of tourism in the newly-merged tribal districts (NMTDs). A further Rs2 billion have been approved for developmental schemes in the culture promotion sector.
To enable youngsters in the merged tribal districts to secure gainful employment, the senior minister said that a programme worth Rs3 billion will soon be launched whereby they will be able to start their own businesses.
Savilakehari held in Chowmoss festival
Meanwhile, during the ongoing annual Chowmoss festival in Kailash, people celebrated the traditional Savilakehari event to mark the arrival of winter in the Rambur, Bamburet and Birrir valleys of Kailash.
During Savilakehari festival, men, women and children wearing new and colourful clothes and gather to sing love songs for each other. During the event, they also dance together and praise each other. Young Kailash girls wear boys’ dresses while boys clad themselves in girls clothes and dance in the chorus. They then express their feelings for each other and announce their intention for marriage.
Earlier, the community has celebrated Mandahek and Sharaberayak festivals.
People made various items such as toy animals of wheat flour such as cows, markhor and symbols of their ancestors and distributed them as gifts. They were later baked in a fire. These toy animals then placed in the sun. Several foreign tourists, who have travelled to the Kailash valley to observe the event.
The annual Chawmoss festival will continue until December 22.