Adnan Ullah Baig
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, is often referred to as heaven on earth, the grand Himalayas and the Karakoram mountain ranges, the lush green valleys, the snowcapped peaks and the crystal clear blue sky 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 due to the high temperature in the cities, to spend their summer vacations visiting GB and Hunza.
According to the Tourism Department of GB about 10 million tourists are expected to visit GB this year including both domestic and international. I would say it will be a big challenge for the tourism department to manage this all. The visiting of tourists will definitely add to the economy of the local community, it will create jobs for the local people, the income from tourism can be reinvested in protecting the environment, they will get a lot of other benefits from the tourism industry but on the other side it will affect the surrounding environment of the tourist spots if the tours will be not eco-friendly. Tourism can increase litter and pollution and can lead to the destruction of natural habitats. Transporting a lot of people long distances using vehicles release greenhouse gases which leads to global warming. Trekking many times on the same route is the base for soil erosion and barren land and visiting the conserved areas can disturb 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”.
I would suggest the Tourism Department GB to 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 use it for damaging activities; it reduces poaching and hunting of endangered species. Waste that the tourists create should be disposed of carefully.
At GB level, there is a need for greater corporation to protect the environment and promote Ecotourism.