(K2Climb.net) Would you spend your well-earned holidays in a destroyed land, where hotels have been reduced to rubble and roads are constantly buried under land-slides? Would you like to climb or hike though mountain passes disputed between two nuclear potencies and surrounded by heavy arms? Well, we have a first for you!
Go to Kashmir for a good reason
Kashmir is one of the most amazing mountain zones in the world. A conflicted area for decades - finally the authorities seem to agree to grant access to foreign tourists. Visiting an area like that is a rare opportunity. When Tibet opened to tourism in the early eighties, the first visitors there were treated to a very special journey. If you go to Kashmir - you'll not only be among the first to enjoy a virgin, magical place, you'll also do a good deed: Tourism will help the area to recover after the October 8th earthquake.
The mighty tremor shattered parts of North West Frontier Province and Azad State of Jammu and Kashmir (the Pakistan-controlled area of Kashmir), putting the entire future of the region at stake. Unless tourists contribute to make a change.
Azad-Kashmir is a beautiful place - it used to be a favorite spot for locals to spend their summer holidays. But whereas major road links have been opened, restoration and rehabilitation of the infrastructure may take several years. Virtually all accommodation facilities have been damaged, if not totally flattened. Most of the villagers have lost everything; many among the survivors have been left disabled, and a large number of families are homeless.
Find a way out of the tragedy
Pakistan authorities have analyzed the situation and the bottom line is grave. However, they have figured out a way to grant a future for the region: Promoting tourism beyond conflicts and lines of border.
The earthquake brought the international communitys attention towards an otherwise forgotten (and closed) area. Now the Pakistan government is ready to grab the chance and take steps unthinkable a few years ago, such as granting access to foreigners to conflicted areas, and opening some points of the Line of Control to them.
National gathering in Islamabad
In order to set up a strategy, the Alpine Club of Pakistan organized a National Workshop on Promoting Tourism in the Earthquake Effected Areas, inviting all concerned sectors: From Government and politicians, to International relief agencies and, of course, Pakistans tourism industry, with a major role for adventure-related companies and tour operators.
Saltoro Summits are trekking and climbing organizers in the regions, members of the Pakistan Alpine Club and ExplorersWeb's news correspondents in Islamabad. The outfitter provides details on the workshop that was held in Islamabad last Friday: The goal basically to boost tourism in the area, train its inhabitants (especially the unemployed and the disabled) in tourism-related jobs, while preserving and improving the regions fragile environment.
Trips to the other side of the Line of Control
Ideas proposed included setting up model villages, Line of Control-crossing tourism, mountain, adventure and other tourism products, as well as development of eco-tourism and local community based tourism.
Kashmir, being a disputed area, needs changes in policy framework to attract and boost tourism influx to the area, including allowing foreign tourists to cross selected locations on the Line of Control, the workshops agenda stated.
No better way to invest international donations
The steps will demand investments and the workshop organizers proposed to use part of the international donations granted by UN and individual foreign countries towards rehabilitation for growth of the tourism sector in the effected areas.
Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz shares Alpine Club of Pakistans idea. During his visit to the quake affected areas, the Prime Minister said Azad Kashmir will be opened for tourism to exploit the areas full potential and help generate opportunities for the people.
We will provide all facilities to attract tourism here, the PM said, referring to the November 19 donors conference, when the international community pledged over six billion dollars in grants and loans to help government in its reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts.
The Alpine Club of Pakistan has been helping international relief agencies, collecting money and distributing aid items since the October 8 earthquake.
Help through Alpine Club of Pakistan:
Alpine Club of Pakistan:
Contact ACP for further information at
Donate via the following bank account:
Lt Col (Retd) Manzoor Hussain,
Alpine Club of Pakistan
National Bank of Pakistan Cantonment Branch,
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