Mountaineering and trekking are not only adventurous activities, but also the finest way to boost a country’s economy and to earn precious foreign exchange, said President Alpine Club of Pakistan Abu Zafar Sadiq while talking to INP-WealthPK. Abu Zafar regretted that lack of proper and consistent government policies had made this profit-oriented activity less productive. He said there existed a great communication gap between the stakeholders – the public and private sectors. He emphasised the need for a greater share of tourism in the socio-economic cycle instead of depending on only agriculture, mineral, or other sectors.
“Pakistan is endowed with the highest mountain peaks like the Nanga Parbat (ranks 9th, 8126m) in the Himalaya Mountain range, Tirich Mir (ranks 33rd, 7708m) in the Hindu Kush Mountain range and K2 (ranks 2nd, 8611m) in the Karakoram Mountain range. Such wonderful mountain ranges, snow valleys, and gigantic rocks are heavens for tourists, mountaineers, climbers, and snow adventure game lovers. We can generate a handsome revenue by turning these assets into potential recreational hotspots. Youth engagement is low because of lack of promotion and awareness about the economic value of these spots.
Primarily, now it is a provincial chapter to promote these sites into income-generating spots. People must be trained as guides and adventure sports/climbing and mountain expedition leaders, etc. In this way, not only the employment rate will increase in these areas, but also Pakistan will earn a huge foreign exchange,” he said. Talking to WealthPK about the importance of trekking and mountaineering tourism in Pakistan, Managing Director Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) Aftab ur Rahman Rana said, “To extract proper economic potential of these tourist heavens, it is important to tactfully develop and promote these areas. For better results, both short and long-term policies are important to weave.
Capacity building is also an important aspect for all the stakeholders, i.e., local people, tour operators, expedition leaders, hospitality sector, visa issuing authorities, academia, transport sector, public and private sectors, both provincial and federal agencies, etc.”“The range of tourist inflow for both local and foreign tourists in an area must be defined and not a single entry must be allowed more than capacity. It is important for harmonious management, safety of tourists, and avoiding any critical situation. The PTDC is always active in facilitating and training the people and increasing awareness about the socio-economic value of a multitude of tourist activities.
It is important to take this campaign as a national responsibility at all levels for the economic prosperity of Pakistan and its people.”Talking to WealthPK about the importance of increasing awareness about tourism in the snow-clad areas of Pakistan, mountaineer, climbing expedition leader and CEO of Alpine Equipment House Hasil Shah said, “I have been involved in the adventure activities since 1988. Now I sell all types of mountaineering/climbing gear and other adventure sports articles. Increasing sales tell that the number of amateurs is increasing. People want to properly learn these activities, but the number of such instruction places and clubs is too low. However, I am happy that it has started despite low operations.
When I started, there was no training facility available in the country and we received basic skills from the foreign expedition teams. Now few clubs have started training people, especially in Skardu, Shimshal areas. I also climbed peaks from 6,000 to about 8,000 meters not only in Pakistan, but also abroad and still lead the expeditions. From May to August, the adventure season starts. If the government frames this segment of tourism, great revenues can be generated for the socio-economic uplift of local people and the state wallets as well.” The Global Adventure Tourism Market was worth $288.08 billion in 2021, and it is projected to reach US$2824.41 billion by 2030 at a compound annual growth rate of 28.8%.
There is a great scope for Pakistan to get its slice of the size like Nepal, which is famous worldwide for giving mountaineers the most luring offers. The Nepali mountaineering and trekking guides (called Sherpas) are highly skilled and famed for their expert route trekking. Pakistan must adopt a professional approach to frame its policies to get proper economic benefits from its lofty mountain ranges. Experts can be invited to train the Pakistani people to learn and upgrade their trekking and mountaineering skills. This will help generate significant opportunities for people's sustainable living in these areas.
Credit : Independent News Pakistan-WealthPk