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    September 15, 2016



Chain of festivals yet to be exploited for the promotion of tourism

By Zahiruddin

The cultural diversity of Chitral is associated with a chain of festivals whose timings pertained to all the four seasons of the year but these are yet to be exploited for the promotion of tourism.

The persons related with tourism sector in different capacities complained that except for Kalash festival Chilim Jusht and Shandur polo festival, no other festivals are publicized by the government to attract the tourists.

Zahid Ashraf, a former college teacher, described some of the festivals as Gobor festival , Baroghil festival, Shandur festival held in summer season, Phindik, Ghari Khomik of autumn, chitramas of winter season, Kagh Lusht festival, Pathak Dik and Nowroze of spring season.

He said that some valleys of the district present a very and captivating view in the autumn when the tree leaves turn yellow, pink and red while a number of valleys like Terich, Oveer, Melp, Yarkhoon and the villages of Booni looks like covered by yellow blanket and it last for more than two weeks.

Mr. Ashraf said that this season has never been showcased either by the tourism department of the government or by the people of tourism industry while it was marketed in Gilgit-Baltistan.

Regarding the essence of the festivals, he said that they depicted the socio-cultural life of the local folk and it was heartening to note that they have been well amalgamated with the cultural traits of modern time.

He said that bull fighting competition is one of the events of ghari khomik festival in many villages which is still a popular game in Europe as well and there are numerous such events in the festivals to be prime importance for the tourists.

Shamsud Din, the local head of a development organization, said that most of the festivals last for three to five days during which the local cuisines and costumes are showcased while a segment of the tourists have been evincing interests in the material culture of the area.

He said that with the completion of Lowari tunnel and its inauguration in June next year as announced by the prime minister last week, the scenario will change in the sector of tourism as the approach to Chitral valley will not be a problem to be reckoned with.

Presently, the tourists used to come here with the advent of summer season but the Lowari tunnel will present an all-weather route to Chitral making their turn out possible for the winter and autumn seasons as well.

Shahzada Sirajul Mulk, the founder chairman of Chitral Association for Mountain Areas Tourism (CAMAT), said that all the festivals have great attractions and fascinations for the eco-tourists coming from different countries and there is an urgent need of hard and fast schedule fixed for them by the government.

Citing the examples of the famous Kalash festival Chilim Jusht and the Shandur festival, he said that it attracts a large number of tourists only due to the reason that it is fixed from May 12 to 17 which is a perennial schedule and a tourist from Europe intending to come here knows when this festival is held.

Mr. Mulk said that 80 percent increase in the number of tourists is possible by planning a fixed calendar for the festivals at least for five years by the government which can be disseminated by the tour operators but presently, a tour operator is not able to tell his client (tourist) definitely about the events.

When contacted, the district nazim Maghfirat Shah said the district government has a comprehensive strategy in the anvil to exploit the potential of tourism industry to its full.

He admitted that at the moment the industry of tourism was in disarrayed and haphazard shape and there was a need to prepare a calendar of the local festivals and events and have them publicized and make arrangements for tourists to participate in them.

Mr. Shah said that we can fight the core issue of unemployment among the youth by promoting the tourism industry and it is due to this reason that district government is making its own plan.



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