Rafiullah Khan
Swat district’s tourism industry is struggling to survive the aftershocks of damages area infrastructure in August floods.
The floods had caused huge losses to the roads, bridges, tourism and other affiliated businesses of Madiyan, Bahrain and Kalam areas of the district. The destruction of infrastructure is causing issues to both the area residents and tourists.
Anila Khan, a tourist from Charsadda district told TNN that she visited Kamal Bahrain every to enjoy snowfall; but, this winter, she will go there after the snowfall due to bad conditions of roads. “We are thinking of going to Malam Jabba, Islampur and Murghuzar; but, bridges in the area were damaged, causing trouble to tourists and locals alike,” she said.
Islampur area of the district is famous for its cottage industry and large number of tourists flock the area to buy shawls, embroidered caps and dresses. But, Noman, a local trader said there business were hit after the floods.
Noman said that has rented four shops in Kalam for Rs 1 million; but, the shops closed after the floods. “I have paid Rs 1 million rent for closed shops this year,” he said.
Noman said that Kalam has become off-limits for tourists after the floods. “Tourists are not coming to Kalam anymore,” he said. He said that his merchandise worth Rs 9 million destroyed in storage due to floods. “Government officials have made videos and taken pictures of losses but we have not received anything so far,” he said.
Kalam Hotels Association President Rehmat Din Siddiqi said that more than 20,000 people in the area were dependent on 300 hotels for their livelihood.
Floods destroyed 50 hotels while some others damaged and rests were lying closed due to road closures, he said.
He said that closure of hotels had resulted into losses worth billions of rupees while winter tourism has come to standstill.
Rehmat said that thousands of area people working in these hotels have rendered jobless.
“70 percent of area population was dependent to tourism and 20,000 people were now jobless,” he said.
He complained that at one hand floods played havoc with area’s tourism while but, government was constructing dams on their lands. “They are imposing section 4 to get land for dams,” Rehmat said.
Official figures show that the floods destroyed 141 link bridges, 570 roads and other infrastructure in Malakand division and work was in progress for their restoration.
Besides this, authorities also planned to hold winter festival to attract tourists to the area.

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