.. by Zahiruddin
CHITRAL: The completion of Lowari tunnel has provided an all-weather route to Chitral and now is the time for the government to take steps for promotion of winter tourism and tap true potential of tourism in the area.
Talking to this scribe, a number of stakeholders of tourism sector said that in Chitral, a tourist could see the Kashmir Markhor, snow leopard and many other species of wild beasts in their natural habitat from a close range and enjoy snowfall and skating.
They were of the view that a proper publicity was needed to promote the winter attractions of the area as well as the fact that hitherto Lowari Pass (10,300 feet above sea level) severed the district from rest of the country for five months of the extended winter season.
Abdul Haleem, a tour operator, said that the landscape of Chitral was best suited for skiing, while holding of a skiing gala here on national level under the aegis of the government could bring the area in the limelight and promote winter tourism.
He said that the valleys of Sheshi Koh, Madak Lusht, Bumburate, Birir, Rumbur, Golen, Karimabad, Garam Chashma, Oveer, Terich and Mulkhow were the ideal places which received heavy snowfall and provided ideal places for skiing.
Mr Haleem said that a tourist in Chitral city, Kalash valleys and Garam Chashma could now see snowfall from their hotels having all facilities, including uninterrupted power supply. The road infrastructure has also been improved recently and free movement during snowfall has become easier now.
Chitral city flanked the Gol National Park which was the habitat of snow leopard, markhor and many species of wildlife. Asghar Ali, a wildlife watcher in the park, said that one could easily see the wild animals by walking for an hour from the city during snowfall. He claimed that no other tourist resort afforded such a unique facility. He said that when the snowfall continued for more than three days the wild animals and birds in the national park came down to lower altitudes and for the non-local tourists it was an unusual phenomenon.
The Kalash valleys of Bumburate, Birir and Rumbur remained shrouded in snow during the whole winter season, but it did not keep the Kalash youth confined to their homes as they used to play snow hockey.
Dr Inayatullah Faizi said that that Tourism Corporation of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa should take concrete steps for promotion of winter tourism in Chitral, which had become quite feasible after completion of Lowari tunnel.
Published in Dawn, January 29th, 2018