By Khalida Khan
A study survey was conducted in Gilgit-Baltistan, to investigate the major cause of rapid turn down in the inflow of tourists, which has adversely affected the tourism sector, since last decade. They analyzed tourists’ inflow data, obtained from Foreign Registration Office, Gilgit.
A significant reduction, in tourist inflow data, was observed since 1998, when inflow was 1,13,399 tourists, with minimum inflow i.e., 2,000 tourists in 2002, and 2,544 in 2009. Further, the linkage of this reduction in tourist inflow with sectarianism was investigated by conducting surveys on cultural diversity; influences of sectarian clashes; war and terror; and consequent changes in the ratio of incoming tourists, to reach the final conclusion.
The findings of the study showed, that the prolonged local sectarian clashes seem to be the major causes of tourism down fall. In addition to the sectarian clashes, political instability; and war against terrorism in country, are the apparent causes, which contribute to nonconstructive marketing for the distressed area.
Revitalization of collapsed tourism sector and opening of sustainable community-based ecotourism initiatives through reformed policies, that address the mountain concerns and cooperative action of all stakeholders, can tackle challenges for tourism, which will ultimately root out unfavorable circumstances that cause tension in this region.
The author is Incharge, Centre for Integrated Mountain Research, University of the Punjab, Lahore – Pakistan