Gilgit - Baltistan

Is there any potential for winter-tourism in GB?

Do you know the name of this place?

Gilgit – Baltistan is one of the most naturally gifted regions of the world, where all four seasons can be witnessed in their extreme and relatively natural form.

When the times were good, the robust tourism industry used to provide livelihood to thousands of people during the summer and spring seasons. But, since September 9/11, the flow of tourists to this region has gradually dwindled, reaching a new low due to uncertain law and order situation in other parts of the country, as well as Gilgit city.

Despite all this, no serious thought has, ever, been given to promotion of the phenomena of winter tourism, for which there are ample opportunities in the region.

Can the government start seriously exploring the potential of winter tourism in GB, or is it just wishful thinking?

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  1. Where there is a will there is a way. Of course, the potentials should be explored, everything is possible.
    You have dedicated and well known people like Ashraf Aman,Nasir Sabir and others who could help promote winter tourism.
    Presently Russian climbers are in GB, they want to scale K2. And in January 2012 Austrian climbers will be there to scale Gasherbrum 1.
    Why not get in touch with them and discuss this matter?
    Just keep on trying, it is worthed.
    Greeetings from Vienna / Austria
    Mrs Waltraud TOrossian



  3. There is a serious problem in the perception of “tourism” and what it means. In Pakistan, there are only two types of “active” tourism working here. 1 is linked to the gandhara culture and the other is serious mountaineering. These two fields are almost constant, (although mountaineering is more steady) no matter what is going on in the country.
    All other forms of tourism are limited due to lack of infrastructure, access and security related issues.
    The government and most “tourist organizations” have always considered large projects and projects that expect huge number of tourists to come to Pakistan. This is simply not going to happen. We must understand once and for all: Pakistan is a “specialist” tourism destination – it will never be able to compete with countries like India, Sri Lanka or even Nepal, in terms of general tourism.
    Having said that .. specialist tourism is quite easy to manage and develop. In the 60’s and 70’s Pakistan saw positive tourism pass through our country. Even the 80’s and 90’s saw healthy tourism numbers but these numbers never prompted a serious effort to enhance, develop and expand the facilities and possibilities in Pakistan.
    There is a lot to be said about the why’s and why nots of tourism in Pakistan but let me move on to the main issues and then offer some positive options.
    1. Our existing concept of tourism :
    Bad infrastructure + masses of people + huge ecological degradation + massive pollution + zero regulation and enforcement = DOMESTIC TOURISM
    Stories of Murree, Nathiagali, Ayubia, Kaghan and Naran are glaring examples of our deplorable tourism policies and achievements!
    2. The Tourism Leadership:
    Unrealistic ideas + political handout of the Tourism Ministry + lack of practical and long term plans + desire to travel to all the international forums for a free ride + preaching to an international audience that cannot come to Pakistan due to security concerns + uncontrolled and rampant domestic tourism = WISHFUL TOURISM DEVELOPMENT of PAKISTAN
    3. Security and Access:
    When a Pakistani cannot travel freely without fear of harm and many amazing areas of Pakistan are out of bounds … then how can we expect to woo foreigners to Pakistan?? When a family from Lahore goes to Skardu .. and gets stuck for days because the flights don’t operate and the roads are blocked or convoys have to be created for safety and security reasons … how are we going to ask foreign travelers to come to Skardu?? and Skardu is one of the MOST peaceful and positive examples in our country for tourism!!!!!

    Positives! What can we really do??

    The best thing that we have got without doing an ounce of work is the gift of nature = our geographical treasures. From the sea to the mountains Pakistan has many amazing features. The one thing we have to understand is that if WE do not protect them .. they will be gone forever .. let us be in no doubt. Reclaiming and reestablishing polluted or denuded areas is a very very difficult job. So what can we do in terms of developing our domestic tourism … be in no doubt .. local awareness and then the development of domestic tourism is the ONLY way to develop a good and sound tourism industry .. and only then can one even begin to consider the international tourist.
    Without activity, getting people to visit areas is always going to be a one off thing … something one would not do again … but the key to success of any tourist venture is to have the people come back .. again and again and spread the word!
    We have the potential for the following:
    1. Specialized adventure winter sport (using local infrastructure and some technology) Kaghan – Chitral and GB)
    2. Non mechanized water sport in lakes and rivers (North and south)
    3. Climbing (Simple to technical) From Islamabad to the high north)
    4. Summer sport in the mountains (Mechanized and other, land, air and water based)
    5. Cultural and heritage tours of mountain valleys (Interactive and exchange tourism)
    6. Wildlife tourism that uses frontline communities to be the guides and organizers of these specialist outfits.
    7. Developing local communities and their facilities to be used as “resorts” thus benefiting the locals and making sure the activities benefit them and the area can be managed by them. LOCALS MUST BE PARTNERS IN ANY TOURISM BASED ACTIVITY.
    These are the specialist tourism options that can be developed without any resort being built and without huge investment. Once these are established and run properly … only then can one expect to go to step two and then three.
    Yes it is true that people like Mustansar Hussain Tarar, Nazir Sabir, Ashraf Aman, Arif Aslam, Wajahat Malik and a host of others have made huge efforts to project Pakistan positively …. however this is not the job of individuals alone .. the government and the establishment hold the power to make the main difference to infrastructure – access and security and only then … the individuals and organizations can add value.
    Let us hope that the process of devolution allows the GB government to take the lead and make tourism work for GB and may they see the huge benefits this can bring to the amazing people of GB!

  4. Tourism is now becoming a major industry throughout the world. Therefore tourism is called factory without chimney. Yes, there are many potentials for winter-tourism in GB. Just to name two i-e.winter expedition and skiing can be promoted through better advertisement in foreign countries, provision of better hotel, transportation and communication facility.

    Shimshal the bordering village of GB is is a good example where Shimshal Mountaineering School( is playing a key role in promoting winter tourism in Gilgit-Baltistan. Last year winter tourism report may please be seen here

  5. Well said Nisar Malik and a brilliant receipt for all walks of life in GB. The main issue is of course security then infrastructure and our representatives in the GB Government can make it smoother by taking a few steps like ALL WEATHER FLIGHTS to Gilgit and Sikardu airports as well as making these two airports international so that foreigners could fly straight into GB avoiding the travel uncertainty and security risks all the way from Rwp/Islamabad; particularly security which has dropped the tourism from thousands to nearly zero since 09/11. Also a single event can dwindle the tourism though, locals plus security agencies will have to work together to keep this beautiful place peaceful and tourist friendly.

  6. Dear All,

    I am delighted to see this article here because i find the opportunity to get info about hunza.

    I am planning a trip to Hunza and need some information. specially the condition of lake at Attabad, I’ve heard that boat service is halted because the lake has frozen, is it true? and what are the means to cross it. can we cross it on foot as its frozen or we should by pass it? and is their any ski opportunity nearby? and also can i get hotel/lodging facility at this time of year?

    Hope to listen from some one out there!
    Thanks in Advance …

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