Rashid Ullah Khan
Why should littering concern us? How much money should we spend to keep Hunza clean? These questions need to be addressed collectively and they need to be taken seriously more than before. People of Hunza in the past have never played the blame game, what they have done instead is solve the problem by themselves. For example, when they needed money and wanted to save them they established the thrift and credit societies, and when they felt the importance of educating their children they built community schools. That is why I feel that Hunzukutch will do something about the littering issue when they realize that it harms their economic and social well-being.
In Ali Abad, which technically is the commercial hub of Hunza, there is not even a single litter bin installed by the government. Thus, expecting the tourists to keep the region clean seems to make no sense. Keeping the region clean, without the installation of litter bins, I believe, could only be expected with a decrease in the influx of tourists. But a decrease in the influx can harm the growth of the economy of Hunza because total spending in the region will decrease. If the littering goes on, without any efforts from the locals, the distinctive image of Hunza, that it has made over the years as a tourist spot, will for sure fade away. Therefore, if the environmental quality of the region decreases then the influx of tourists will decrease.
After asking the locals, that how they perceive the hike in the tourist influx, I realized that those who are not direct beneficiaries of it are not happy with the development. But what they don’t want to understand is the fact that those who have earned money will spend and invest at least a fraction of it in Hunza. For example, the demand for masons and plumbers have increased because of the increase in construction of hotels and the demand for agriproducts goes up during the season. In other words, a hike in spending causes a virtuous cycle in the parlance of economics. Therefore, tourism benefits everyone and every day.
If the tourism industry is properly overseen, by understanding the threats it poses and the benefits it provides, then the locals’ well-being will for sure improve and children will no more commit suicide for the financial reasons and parents will be able to finance the education of their school going children.
The contributor is a BS – BS- Economics and Mathematics student at IBA-Karachi.