The USAID Firms project
, which promotes investment, enterprise development, and job growth in Pakistan, identified the tourism industry’s potential to reinvigorate the region. Under the project's Malakand Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Recovery Assistance Program, 239 hotels in Swat received grants and in-kind assistance such as construction material, furniture, and other hotel supplies.
Nearly 150 partner hotels in Swat resumed regular operations in the summer of 2011 for the tourist season, which peaks in July. The occupancy rate has climbed exponentially for these hotels, and $668,000 in sales revenue has been recorded for the season, which is a substantial increase over the previous year.
Hotel owners also received training in hotel management practices and were provided with technical assistance in developing action plans for rehabilitation activities. Through constant mentoring and regular assessments the project has ensured that assisted hotels also maintain health and hygiene standards. In conjunction with the rehabilitation efforts, a nationwide media campaign was launched in July 2011 to help attract tourists to Swat.
“Both of my hotels are once again catering to tourists and I have been able to put bread on the table for my family after several difficult years.” says Mr. Noshad. “Things are finally looking up for me and for hundreds of other hoteliers in Swat.”