Following MET office’s prediction of the snowfall over the hills of Upper Khyber Pakthunkhwa including Swat valley, the tourists and snowfall lovers on Thursday thronged to the most scenic Kalam, Bahrain and Malam Jabba valleys to enjoy the first snowfall of the winter season. Domestic tourists along with families mostly arrived from different districts of Central Punjab and northern Khyber Pakthunkhwa were being seen in sizable number in Upper Swat’s valleys of Kalam, Madain, Bahrain and Malam Jabba exploring its mesmerizing natural beauty amid light to modern rains and snowfall that turned weather extremely cold and muggy. Tourists from Peshawar, Nowshera, Mardan, Charsadda, Lahore, Rawalpindi and Islamabad were seen in large number at Kalam, Malam Jabba and Bahrian to get pleasures form snowfall, trout fish and river rafting. Besides Kalam and Malam Jabba, the snowy mountains peaks of Gabin Jabba, Miandam, Matiltan, Kalam, Utror, Gabral, Matiltan, Mahodand, Loye Sar resorts have drawn influx of snowfall lovers along with families and children amid great fun and laughter. “I came from Wapda Town Peshawar to my favorite tourists’ destination Kalam for snowfall and trout fish following MET’s office forecast for snowfall over the hills of Upper Swat,” said Ahtisham Khan, a lecturer of Urdu literature while talking to APP. The 150-kilometer-long freshwater of the river Swat originating from different glaciers and lakes including Mahodand and Gabral mountains offers unique opportunities for adventure sports enthusiasts to explore in a single day trip along with loved ones. Fazagut, Fatehpur, Barikot, and Chakdara were most suitable for water rafting in river Swat and if developed on modern lines could attract a large number of tourists during winter. River Swat is ideal for ‘fish jumping and disappearing water sports’ and introduction of such sports would help bolster rural economy and promote tourism and transport industries in KP. The most celebrated monk from Thailand, Arayawangso along with 20 disciples has recently visited different Buddhist sites of Swat including Saidu Sharif Museum and Stupa besides Buthkara Buddhist monastery which impressed him a lot. He said Swat was very important in terms of Buddhist history in Pakistan and must be visited by followers of Bhuddism from all around the world. Another striking feature of Swat is skiing sports being played at Malam Jabba every year during winter and such sport was hardly placed in any part of the country. Malik Luqman, KP tourism department’s senior planning officer told APP that a mega project costing Rs238 million was prepared for organizing different winter sports and tourism events in various districts including Swat. Kalam’s winter gala and tour-de-cycle race would be organized in Swat while first-ever sports rafting at River Swat would be held besides an international paragliding event at Saidu Sharif. He said a youth leadership conference and skiing event at Malam Jabba was also planned. To reduce tourists’ load at Kalam, Malam Jabba and Bahrian, he said new tourists spots would be developed at Sola Tanar, Puchar and Jarogo valleys while walking tracks would be developed to promote eco-tourism in Swat. To maintain natural beauty and avoid pollution at tourist spots in Swat, he said camping pods would be established at new tourists’ destinations besides Kalash culture events in Chitral. To link new tourist destination with Swat Motorway, he said that Rs4.8 billion were being spent on development and construction of new roads. Tourism budget has been swelled to Rs8.6 billion during 2022-23 while work on the world bank’s assisted KP Integrated Tourism Project costing Rs17 billion was underway in the province, he added. Luqman said the construction of 15 jeepable tracks was also proposed in Malakand and Hazara divisions while six tourist facilitation centers were established and work on seven others started. He said ground breaking of 23 km long Mankyal-Bada Sarai Road has been performed that would be rehabilitated at an estimated cost of Rs 5.70 billion. The project also includes the construction of four bridges and two rest areas. He said that an Integrated Tourism Zone at Mankyal Swat would be established where modern facilities would be provided to tourists under KITE project. He said Rs 365 million project for feasibility studies for identification of new tourist spots was planned. To promote ecotourism in southern districts of KP, he said that a road to Sheikh Badin tourist resort located at the confluence of DI Khan and Lakki Marwat districts would be constructed with an estimated cost of Rs3 billion while a tourist wing for merged areas was being established to monitor and oversee tourism-related activities there. Tourism police was made operational at Malakand and Hazara divisions to facilitate tourists. He said Tourism police were deployed on key places of Swat to facilitate tourists and snowfall lovers during winter season.