Promoting Sustainable Tourism in Gilgit Baltistan
Gilgit-Baltistan, located in northern Pakistan, is a region full of natural beauty consisting of high-altitude peaks, charming lakes, rivers, glaciers, lakes, stunning valleys and rich cultural heritage. It is a popular tourist destination that attracts visitors from all over the country and globally. However, with increasing tourism, there is a need to promote sustainable tourism practices that protect the environment, preserve cultural heritage, and benefit the local communities to sustainable tourism in the long run.
Gilgit Baltistan has a much higher capacity in the tourism industry. However, due to a lack of resources and the negligence of the respective authorities and the government, till now, the full potential has not been cashed out. Many regions have tourism above capacity, while few have much higher potential, but the tourism influx is much lesser. The government must ensure the balance of tourism influx.
Sustainable tourism fully considers its current and future economic, social, and environmental impacts, addressing visitors’ needs, industry, environment, and host communities. Various strategies can be implemented to promote sustainable tourism in Gilgit-Baltistan, including supporting local communities, preserving the environment, government special attention to developing comprehensive policies, working on infrastructure, creating a professional tourism department team, educating visitors, encouraging responsible behavior, providing visitors with relevant information and supporting cultural heritage.
At present, tourism activists are drawn with no proper guidance.The visitors have no relevant information about the tourism sector. The government should work on farsighted comprehensive policies that should not only be based on the current time but the next ten or twenty years to take the region’s tourism sector to another height. The region has tourist products like the mighty K-2, Nanga Parbat, and Fairy meadows which needs to cash out. The policies must target the international community by presenting a soft image of the region.
Infrastructure is the backbone of the tourism sector. Without proper infrastructure, thinking about attracting international tourists make no sense. To entertain different types of tourists, respective infrastructure and facilities are required. Most importantly, the hotel industry plays a significant role that needs investments. People are constructing many hotels without any future considerations. Many hotels don’t even have parking facilities. These create disturbance to the smooth flow of tourism.
Professional Tourism Department Team
The government should work to create a professional tourism department team. At present many untrained and inexperienced persons are leading the tourism department. The appointment of bureaucrats to the department is injustice as being a bureaucrat does not mean you know about each and everything. The tourism sector is a different thing. Only those having expertise must lead the department. There should be proper training for the professionals of the tourism department so that they may take the tourism sector to another level by benefiting all.
Supporting Local Communities
One of the most important ways to promote sustainable tourism is by supporting local communities. This can be done by promoting locally-owned businesses, hiring local guides, and supporting community-based tourism initiatives. By doing so, visitors can learn about the local culture, while the local communities benefit economically from tourism. In addition, community-based tourism can help promote a greater understanding of the local culture and traditions.
Preserving the Environment
Gilgit-Baltistan is home to some of the world’s most beautiful and fragile ecosystems. It has the world’s longest nonpolar glaciers, including the Baltoro and Hisper. Sustainable tourism practices can help preserve the environment by reducing waste and pollution, controlling the inflow of vehicles, supporting renewable energy, and promoting conservation efforts. Visitors can also participate in eco-friendly activities like hiking and camping that minimize environmental impact. It is important to create awareness among visitors about environmental conservation and encourage them to minimize their environmental impact.
Educating visitors about sustainable tourism practices can also help promote sustainable tourism in Gilgit-Baltistan. This can be done through brochures, signage, and information centers highlighting the importance of protecting the environment, and regional species, preserving cultural heritage, and supporting local communities. Visitors can be encouraged to make responsible choices that benefit the local communities and the environment by providing information about sustainable tourism practices.
Encouraging Responsible Behavior
Encouraging responsible behavior among the locals and visitors is another way to promote sustainable tourism. This can be done through codes of conduct that encourage visitors to respect local customs, minimize waste, and reduce their environmental impact. This will benefit the local communities and enhance the visitor’s experience by providing them with a deeper understanding of the local culture and traditions. The locals should present a soft image rather than trying to overcharge visitors. The locals engaged in the tourism industry must come out of the typical thinking of extracting all the eggs from the hen at once. Tourism is a slow and beneficial process.
Supporting Cultural Heritage
Gilgit-Baltistan has a rich cultural heritage and unique social norms that must be preserved. Sustainable tourism practices can help support cultural heritage by promoting responsible tourism that respects local customs and traditions and provides economic benefits to the local communities. Visitors can be encouraged to learn about the local customs and traditions and participate in cultural activities such as folk music, dance, and tasting of cultural foods. By doing so, they will gain a deeper understanding of the local culture and help preserve it.
In conclusion, promoting sustainable tourism in Gilgit-Baltistan is essential to preserve natural beauty, cultural heritage, and local communities. By supporting local communities, preserving the environment, educating visitors, and supporting cultural heritage, we can ensure that tourism in Gilgit-Baltistan is sustainable and benefits everyone involved. Sustainable tourism is beneficial not only to the environment and the local communities but also to the visitors who can have a unique and authentic regional experience. Therefore, promoting sustainable tourism in Gilgit-Baltistan is important to ensure that it remains a popular destination for generations.