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Eid holidays: Half a million happy campers flock to Swat

Road networ­ks still major concer­n, trader­s earn well with influx of custom­ers

Queues of tourists’ vehicles on a road in Swat. PHOTO: EXPRESS

Queues of tourists’ vehicles on a road in Swat. PHOTO: EXPRESS

MINGORA: What better way to spend a holiday than being surrounded by the scenic valleys and pleasant weather of Swat Valley. That is exactly how an estimated half a million people chose to spend their Eid. The number was confirmed by an ISPR spokesperson.

The tourists came from all over the country, including K-P, Punjab and Sindh. They flocked to areas such as Kalam Valley, Malam Jabba, Bahrain, Madyan, Marghuzar and several other tourist spots.

However, it was not all smooth sailing as the influx of people created some problems. The road network, connecting parts of Swat valley to the main city of Mingora, was severely affected by traffic jams.

“As many as half a million tourists visited Swat valley and stringent security arrangements were made by law-enforcement agencies to cope with any untoward incident,” the ISPR spokesperson said.

He added security forces also extended a helping hand to traffic police and assisted in managing traffic during rush hour.

“The forces were also put on high-alert and personnel were deployed at entry points.”

Akbar Khan, a tourist from Peshawar, told The Express Tribune he and his family visited Swat during Eid holidays and were impressed by the natural beauty of the area.

“We toured Kalam Valley, Bahrain and Madyan and have never had so much fun,” he said gleefully.  Another tourist, Rana Iqbal, from Rawalpindi, said the sites were unparalleled and that was the reason tourists preferred Swat over other spots.

Holiday season: High prices put a damper on Eid celebrations

“No doubt, Swat is an exceptional area of the country. The only matter of concern is the poor road network which causes trouble for tourists,” he said. He asked the government to pay special attention to such infrastructure to revive the ailing tourism industry.

Locals of Kalam Valley slammed authorities for failing to construct the main road leading to Kalam. “The main road of Kalam, inundated by 2010 floods, still awaits construction,” one of them pointed out. They accused both the provincial and federal governments of ignoring the people of Kalam.

“The government can’t revive tourism without constructing the Kalam Road,” a local said. He added people of the area would take to the streets if the government failed to construct the pathway. Meanwhile, the business community in Mingora was overwhelmed by the large influx of tourists.

“On this Eid, the tourists on holiday have done plenty of shopping which helped us make healthy profits,” said Anwarul Haq, a trader in Mingora.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 12th, 2016.


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