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Tourists enjoy a ride on the chairlift. — Dawn
Tourists enjoy a ride on the chairlift. — Dawn

MINGORA: Despite biting cold thousands of tourists from across the country throng Malam Jabba, the scenic ski resort in Swat valley, to enjoy snow- and winter-related activities and natural beauty. Tourists from Sindh, Balochistan and Punjab provinces are the highest in number this winter, claimed hotel owners in Malam Jabba and Miandam valleys.

Tourists said that they enjoyed the snow-white mountains and riding in the cable car, lifting them to 9,000 feet in Malam Jabba.

“This is my memorable trip to enjoy mountain snow, chairlift ride to the peak and a trek amid thick forest on top of Malam Jabba ski resort. I am happy to see a big number of tourists from Karachi and other parts of Sindh here,” said Zakia Shahid, a tourist from Karachi who had come with her family.

The tourists said that they were amazed to see complete peace in the valley. “The government has not only established its writ, but also took steps to revive tourism. I visited the valley after 12 years and I am excited to see the charm Swat valley used to hold for tourists,” said Hamid Iqbal, a tourist from Quetta.

Praise govt for peace, reviving tourism in valley

He added that Swat was once again a major tourist attraction and it was encouraging to see local investors pouring money into the tourism industry.

The visitors said the chairlift ride offered multiple scenic attractions as it passed through forest and gave them a panoramic view of snowcapped mountains around them.

The tourists who enjoyed snowboarding, sledding and snow tubing said the valley was a tourist paradise, but its road was in complete disrepair.

“Before reaching the scenic valley the tourists have to pass through about three hours of torment owing to the bad condition of the road,” said Shazia Anam, a tourist from Islamabad. She said that the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government made tall claims of ‘change’ but the roads and other infrastructure here seemed in a bad shape.

Hotel owners said that influx of tourists was higher than before this winter and claimed that at least 2,000 tourists visited Malam Jabba ski resort daily. “On weekends the influx of tourists reaches to 7,000 here which normally remains between 2,000 and 3,000,” said Yaqoob Hassan, general manager operations of Samsons group which constructed the chairlift.

He said that soon an international level skiing competition would be held and the Malam Jabba hotel would start operations in July 2018.

Published in Dawn, January 17th, 2018