PESHAWAR -  The three-day annual Shandur Polo Festival will kick off at Shandur Pass in Chitral from July 29th.

The decision to give final touches to the arrangements for the festival was taken on Thursday in a meeting held with Secretary Sports, Tourism, Archaeology, Museums, Culture and Youth Affairs Mohammad Tariq in the chair.

Tourism Corporation Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (TCKP) Managing Director Mushtaq Ahmed Khan, Senior General Manager Syed Hayat Ali Shah, General Manager Sajjad Hameed, Director Culture Ajmal Khan, General Manager Tourist Information Centres (TICs) Muhammad Ali Syed and other officials and stakeholders attended the meeting.

Speaking on the occasion, Secretary Tourism Muhammad Tariq said that the Shandur Polo Festival will be organised in a befitting manner to attract domestic and foreign tourists to the scenic region and traditional game in large number this year.

He said the district government Chitral, police, armed forces and other institutions would extend full support to hold the festival at the world’s highest polo ground peacefully.

He said the concerned departments had been issued directives for taking steps for the renovation of polo ground, water supply, transport, holding meetings with stakeholders and provision of other facilities to the participating teams, fans, and tourists.

The official said that Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral teams would participate in the mega annual event. He said that the festival would provide an opportunity of great thrill and enjoyment to the tourists, spectators, and fans of the polo game.

The secretary said that the event would also send a positive message to the outer world that the peace and tranquillity had been restored in the region.

“This year, the festival would be unique as the local artisans and skilled entrepreneurs would be provided an opportunity to showcase their products, besides polo game, food stalls, traditional music and dances and adventurous activities in the gala,” he added.

He said rafting in the Shandur Lake, paragliding, archery and kite-flying would be some other features of the event to attract domestic and foreign tourists in the great numbers.

In addition, stalls would be established to highlight and promote the artworks of Chitral and Gilgit’s local artists and skilled people.

The game has got international fame, which is being played at the highest polo ground of the world at Shandur Pass in Chitral.

The provincial government through Finance department provides funds to TCKP for arrangements of the event, which are released to the district administration Chitral.

The role of TCKP is that of a catalyst for promoting the festival through publicity campaign and it also establishes a tent village, tourism information centres and stalls during the event.

It also provides boarding and lodging facilities for both foreign and domestic tourists.

As Chitral is the most peaceful region, it attracts thousands of domestic and international tourists annually, especially during the Shandur and Kalash festivals.

This year, the number of foreign and domestic tourists will be great as compared to the previous years as peace has been restored in the province and the condition of acquiring no objection certificate (NOC) for the international visitors and tourists had already been withdrawn.

The foreign tourists can now visit the event and other scenic spots in any part of Khyber- Pakhtunkhwa if they just have a tourist visa.