Monday, May 2, 2011

Pak-China border opening heralds a revival of tourism industry 2011-05-01

Gojal- The Pak-China border was opened for all types of tourists and logistic services between the two countries here on Sunday.

Both the khunjarab security force (KSF), the Pakistani security force responsible to look after the border and their Chinese counterparts were present at the border that opened the gates by formally cutting of the band.

Owing to the harsh terrain and the extreme weather conditions on both sides of the border, the khunjarab pass, a gateway connecting the two countries remains closed from December to April.

Reopening of the road this year has left the business community scratching their heads as the kkh still remains closed due to the Attaabad Lake, the artificial lake formed due to land slide last year that completely submerged 15 kms of the KKH cutting Gojal valley, the gateway to china from rest of the world. The valley still remains stranded although boat service had been provided for the area in the immediate aftermath of the Attaabad disaster.

The disaster brings a dual with it as the lake adds to the list of tourist hotspots that Gojal, known as the museum of glaciers in the world of tourism offers for visitors.

Though the lake remained largely unnoticed by tourists last year due to the floods that swept the country from the mountains of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa to the plains of Indus basin in Sindh besides the militancy menace caused a huge loss to the local tourism industry.

The country is recovering from ruins of the flood that left hundreds homeless and depriving thousands from their valuables and the situation of law and order is improving with each passing day.

Giants of the local tourism industry are of the view that the year will witness a revival of the tourism industry as the seasons start serves a good omen with globe trotters turning to the high valleys and mountains of Gilgit-Baltistan.

Nazir sabir, the renowned mountaineer said the tourism industry is witnessing a revival this year and expressed his optimism in the future of the tourism industry. “we are having a good start this year that has given hope and confidence to the thousands of people whose income in affiliated with the industry” he added.
He said due to the harsh weather conditions during the winters the tourism industry in Gilgit-Baltistan is a “‘Six-month phenomenon.’ “Tourists start mounting Pakistan during the summers usually besides its quite difficult for mountaineers to do the job in winters” he added.

Aziz, a hotel owner from Gojal while talking to this scribe said his hotel remained literally closed for over two years. “the start of the season has given me hope and I am quite happy to have guests from around the globe back to my hotel” he added. He said the tourist season had a good start and has brought back what he called ‘the fast wilting hope’ of the people whose future is associated with the industry. We are rising from ruins” observed.

The government has set up a special department realizing the potential of tourism in the region. An official of the gilgit-baltistan tourism department said the government was planning a number of initiatives for promotion of tourism in the region. “As we have a good start this year, the government is planning a number of initiatives for promotion of tourism” he added. He said the tourism department was in touch with the tour operators for the betterment and improvement of the tourism industry in the region.