Pakistan

SMEDA, PTDC Festival of North from Oct 20-23rd in GB, says Hashim Raza

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BY ASIM SHAHZAD

The Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority (SMEDA), in collaboration with Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC), is going to hold a 4-day “Festival of North” (Gojal Chapter) on October 20-23, 2022 in Gilgit Baltistan to promote SMEs in the province.

It was informed by Hashim Raza, Chief Executive Officer of SMEDA, Tuesday while addressing a press conference at SMEDA head office.

He said that in the wake of recent floods and a drop in tourist activity, SMEDA, PTDC, and the Government of Gilgit Baltistan had joined hands to support small businesses of upper Hunza through tourism promotion.

The festivities will be spread across various towns across Gojal valley, he said adding that the event titled as “Festival of the North” would be continued as an annual episode by focusing on the improvement and diversification of the products and services of the local SMEs.

He said that Tourism is closely linked with SMEs in hospitality services, tour guides, sports activities, and products like souvenirs, eatables, and handicrafts.

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Festival Of North

But, they have not been able to take full advantage of the growing tourism in Pakistan due to the limited range of products and services, which also lack product development, diversification, categories, packaging, visibility, and marketing.

Though services have been improved but are still not at par with world standards.

Mr. Hashim Raza told that Tourism had been identified in the recent SME Policy as a priority sector, therefore, the promotion of SMEs within the tourism sector is part of the main action plan of the SME Policy, and Festival of the North will prove to be a strong opening towards this direction by bringing all stakeholders of the sector together.

The Festival will include a lot of attractions for visitors as well as for SMEs that include SME stalls, Local foods, Cultural Music, bonfires, and Camping eats.

This is our first year and we will focus on bringing tourists to SMEs at the festival, he said.

He further added that Products would be displayed and through other attractions, people would be encouraged to buy SME products and services. Since it is not a one-time activity, therefore, we will work with local SMEs throughout the next year and keep improving their standards for a bigger better festival in 2023, CEO SMEDA said.

Responding to a question on women’s participation, Mr. Hashim said that SMEDA was already supporting Women entrepreneurs of Gilgit Baltistan through capacity building and participation in national exhibitions, and the stalls of women entrepreneurs would also be part of the festival.

Replying to another question, CEO SMEDA told that on a government level, our ministry of Industries & Production, as well as Govt of GB, were fully supporting our initiative and PTDC had partnered as the main organizer along with the private sector that had also stepped up with active participation.

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