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Promotion of Green Tourism in Northern Pakistan

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Northern Pakistan offers tremendous opportunities for trekkers and adventurists. After experiencing the landscape once, it casts a magic spell and compels them to repeat visits many times in their lives. These places start from Kumrat up to the Chitral valley (Drosh, Kalash valleys to the Tirich Mir base camp and Torkhow, Broghil and further on to the Gilgit Baltistan--Phandar, Ghizer, Ishkomon, and Yasin valleys.

Here the landscape is colorful and fresh, especially when there has been an overnight drizzle, and the early morning colors have a kaleidoscopic effect under the sunshine. The light green patches of crops, grasses, shrubs, and trees interspersed with the blossoms of apricot, peach, and apple trees create a mesmerizing scene. The green carpet of grass with tiny flowers is spellbinding and makes the trekkers stop on numerous occasions during the trek to gaze at it.

It is essential to be well-equipped for a trek, wear sunglasses, good trekking shoes, and carry a water bottle to ensure smooth and comfortable trekking. Sometimes, it is rewarding to have a book or two since reading interesting books in a picturesque landscape close to nature is a treat that triggers innovation and creativity.

The trekkers can enjoy a wholesome breakfast in the end with a strong tea with Shakhmozhi (vegetable bread), eggs, and dairy products. Trekking and adventure in northern Pakistan give the greatest pleasures by offering an opportunity to interact with different people and learn about their lives, the flora, and fauna along the mountain treks amidst the pristine landscape.

However, promoting green tourism is crucial for an environmentally friendly business in the field. Green or environmentally friendly tourism is gaining ground in Pakistan, and district Hunza of Gilgit division banned polyethylene bags after successful legislation in the local assembly for the first time.

However, green tourism doesn't necessarily mean a vacation outdoors with little or no comfort. On the contrary, it can be a thrilling adventure without compromising the values of green tourism. In Pakistan, growing ecotourism resorts use solar energy, harvest rainwater, and comply with the SOPs not using non-biodegradable pollutants. They are careful to avoid visiting pathways or ancient sites and causing pollution. Unfortunately, green tourism is still a new idea for conventional tour operators in Pakistan; they hardly know or accept it, but the future is related to sustainable tourism in the long run.

Green tourism is an eco-friendly way to vacation that protects the fragile ecology and natural biodiversity of various destinations – in this case, the Hindu Kush and the Himalayan regions in northern Pakistan. It starts with self-awareness and ends in accepting collective responsibility for the welfare of the natural environment. By practicing green tourism, we ensure that flora and fauna in the natural habitats are not destroyed, and natural resources such as trees, clean air, and spring water are not wasted or polluted.

Green tours also make it necessary to conduct paperless business and convert a whole range of tourism-related business to paperless documentation that underpins green or sustainable ecotourism. It will enlighten consciousness and give pleasure and confidence in being responsible and environmentally friendly tourism professionals.

During excursions, tour operators must influence the decision of their clients not to use polythene bags and other non-biodegradable waste and carefully manage plastic bottles, tin cans, biscuit wraps, and other non-biodegradable pollutants. Reusable paper and cotton bags are encouraged. Smoke emissions of any kind shall be discouraged, and bonfires and cooking in the open discouraged to avoid air pollution. Instead, clients must switch to eating tinned food; if something has to be boiled or heated, they use portable stoves with natural gas.

Enjoying traditional cultural cuisine is equally vital as protecting flora and fauna in national parks and abstaining from hunting and picking fruit or flowers. In Pakistan, one area to bolster pro-poor tourism is to promote small cottage industries that produce indigenous handicrafts and souvenirs to promote a culture-based local economy.

Tour operators must regularly educate clients to take care of the natural environment in the destinations to which they organize visits. It must be an official policy of all tour operators to take care of water bodies such as rivers and streams, glaciers, and meadows whenever they take clients on a trip.

We must prefer working with service providers (guides, hoteliers, porters, tour operators, transporters, etc.) who firmly believe in environmentally friendly tourism practices.

It is an utmost desire that more tour operators start green tourism and a green holiday to study the local flora, fauna, and cultural heritage aside from learning ways to protect and preserve it. Travelers must participate in positive activities aimed at improving the living standard of the locals with a commitment toward natural habitats, carbon reduction measures, helping to build schools, or performing services that benefit the locals. These vacations can be a lot of work, but many clients might find them rewarding and valuable learning experiences.

Shams Uddin, Booni, Chitral 

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