The Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) Tourism Department has commenced proceedings to regulate the inflow of tourists in the region. Accordingly, new reforms will be implemented in consideration of the local communities whose earnings are predominantly from this sector.
In figures, it was reported that “in some districts, the number of visitors is increasing at a rapid pace” and attracted more than a million tourists last year. Consequently, the 4,000 hotels and restaurants in the region had all been booked to accommodate the heavy influx of visitors.
Discussing the reforms in detail, the GB Tourism Department Director, Saifullah, revealed that under his directions, the department will promote tourism while diverting tourists to places other than Gilgit, Skardu, and Hunza to protect the environment.
Saifullah added that his team has devised a comprehensive strategy to “promote high-end tourism in Gilgit Baltistan”. He added,
Large-scale mass tourism has been on the rise for the past few years but it is not suitable for the local population because a majority of the tourists bring their own tents and food items. Therefore, they do not contribute to the local economy at all.
Commenting on the law and order situation in the sector, Saifullah remarked,
Due to the rapid growth of tourism in Gilgit-Baltistan, the construction of hotels has also accelerated, but many construction laws are being violated. Hotels are being built overnight these days.”
Saifullah seemed irked that the influx of tourists to the region had prompted many unregistered operators to work without having sought the approval of the government and form tourist groups by advertising on social media. When asked about how such issues will be dealt with, he declared that the new reforms would take care of them
In principle, the GB Tourism Department has decided to implement new regulations for both the economy and to preserve and protect the natural resources in the region. The new tourism rulebook will be introduced in the coming few months, subject to the approval of the concerned divisions.