Revitalizing Pakistan's Swat Valley

Swat Valley was once Pakistan's premier vacation spot. The area is trying to regain its appeal after regional conflict and massive floods. Co-hosts Steve Inskeep and Renee Montagne report on an effort underway to rebuild Swat Valley's economy.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Who knows? Maybe someday that traffic could include Indian tourists heading for the Swat Valley in Pakistan. That region has been in the news for several years because it was the scene of battles between Pakistan's army and the Taliban.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Qamar-Uzzaman is one person who hopes it will attract tourists again. He runs a luxury hotel in Swat and calls the region South Asia's Switzerland.

QAMAR-UZZAMAN: It's beautiful. You know, there more than 300 hotels in this Swat Valley. It used to be jam-packed.

INSKEEP: And now the United States is helping to fund an effort to restore the tourist trade. Alex Thier is with the U.S. Agency for International Development

ALEX THIER: It's to show ordinary Pakistanis that they can go to Swat, that Swat is open, that the hotels are open, that the famous restaurants are open, and that they can go there safely. They can take their families, and that once again, places like that are safe.

MONTAGNE: The U.S. is offering money to battered hotels and also some marketing. A website called tourswat.com features breathtaking video and songs describing a place filled with joy.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (Singing in foreign language)

INSKEEP: It really is something to look at. The Serena Hotel in the Swat Valley is keeping a full kitchen and a full staff - optimistic that tourists will return one day. But so far the only visitors, the manager says, are from no-governmental organizations doing work in Pakistan.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (Singing in foreign language)

INSKEEP: It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News.

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