Pakistan is considered among the lucky countries with a dynamic landscape; mountains, rivers, deserts, lakes, waterfalls, springs, glaciers and experience four seasons through the year.
Gilgit-Baltistan, much renowned of its beauty, situated in the extreme north of Pakistan is often referred to as heaven on earth, the grand Himalayas, the Karakoram mountain and the Hindukush mountain range, the lush green valleys, the giant glaciers, the snowcapped peaks and the crystal clear blue sky and water is the reason for a great tourist attraction in the region.
Nowadays the flow of domestic tourists towards GB is at its peak, people from the down country are making their way to visit Gilgit Baltistan to see the beauty of autumn due to the high temperature in the cities, some tourists have already spent their summer vacations visiting GB and Hunza this year.
According to the Tourism Department of GB and other sources about 10 million tourists visited GB this year including both domestic and international. I would say it was a big challenge for the tourism department to manage this all. The visiting of tourists definitely added to the economy of the local community, it created jobs for the local people. On the other hand these tourists ruined the environment of the whole region from Babusar top to Khunjerav top. Pollution, erosion, glacier melting and deforestation is increasing rapidly. Tourism increased litter, pollution and lead to the destruction of natural habitats. Transporting a lot of people long distances using vehicles released greenhouse gases which is cause to global warming. Trekking many times on the same route has resulted to soil erosion and barren land and visiting the conserved areas has disturbed the wildlife. To reduce all these impacts mentioned above it is very important to make our tours eco-friendly.
“Ecotourism is responsible travel to nature areas which conserve the environment and improves the welfare of local people”.
Now the question is “How the income will be utilized generated from tourism to handle these environmental problems”? I would suggest that the revenue produced from tourism should be reinvested in protecting the environment. The Tourism Department of GB should promote Ecotourism in the region which will benefit the environment, economy and the local community. The local people should be encouraged to conserve the environment rather than using it for damaging activities; conservation reduces poaching and hunting of endangered species. Waste that the tourists create should be disposed of carefully.
There is a need for greater corporation at GB level, to protect the environment and promote Ecotourism.
About the Author; Hailing from Gilgit Baltistan – Hunza Gojal, Ghulkin; Studied Mountain Conversation and Watershed Management from University of the Punjab, Lahore.
Published in Passu Times English dated 27th September, 2017