Issues in Promotion of Heritage Tourism in Swat Valley
Author: Muhammad Bilal

The valley of Swat remained a center of Buddhist thought and practice, from 2nd century BCE to nearly 9th century CE. At that time, Gandhara Art flourished here, and many monasteries, stupas and different artifacts were made. The remains of this heritage were long forgotten until the sites were excavated and rediscovered in the 20th century. Today these heritage sites and its artifacts can be visited by tourists. But the proportion of heritage tourism activity and number of tourists at these sites, compare to overall tourism in Swat, is minimal. This research focuses to explore this problem and highlight issues in development and promotion of heritage tourism at these sites. The study also aims at what opportunities locals could realize through successful promotion of tourism. This research employed a qualitative research strategy and the data collection techniques used, included, semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions. The collected data was analyzed using thematic analysis. The study found the prevalence of many issues in the basic structure of heritage tourism activity and sites’ promotion. Many locals were having a negative perception, and domestic tourists un-aware about the heritage and artifacts. The non-availability of formal guides at sites and a negative image of Swat in people’s mind, due to the recent tragic events of Talibanization, create hurdles in attracting tourists and promoting the sites. Besides this, neither any efforts nor any mechanism for the promotion and marketing of heritage tourism was witnessed, on the part of concerned stakeholders (e.g. heritage managers, etc.). The weak structure of overall heritage tourism enterprise and issues in the very foundational components of this market suggests, that focusing first on these basic components and then later promoting the sites on a larger level would be much more effective and sustainable. Supervisor:- Dr. Zulfiqar Ali

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Supervisor: Zulfiqar Ali Kalhoro

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