Farukh is a content writer, MA English & M.S.c Psychology and a former Clin Psychol, who applies her pool of expertise to deliver the best.
Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) the region of Pakistan is famously known as the Heaven on Earth. Gilgit-Baltistan, erstwhile Northern Areas is the heartland of majestic grandeur. At times it becomes difficult to do justice to its beauty because it's beyond words. The marvels of nature never cease to awestruck its visitors be it the confluence of three mightiest mountains, the stark nuance of seasons the dozens of crystal clear lakes, or the scenic landscape. It is home to the multi-cultural, multilingual society whose simplicity is their defining feature, they believe in peaceful co-existence and holds cultural values dear to their heart. These distinctive features of Gilgit-Baltistan has become the ultimate source of tourist attraction. The land has been incessantly entitled as the most sought-after tourist destination owing to its ethereal beauty. The credible source accredited Pakistan's Northern Areas' potential for tourism. Truly, Gilgit-Baltistan's mesmerizing beauty is an eye-catcher for millions of tourists, and the thing they take home is the rejuvenated organic senses. But, this exotic experience of tourism is subject to tourist's disposition towards it. As the more responsible tourist carries out tourism the more splendid experience of tourism it will turn out, and vice versa in case of extreme negligence. The tourism industry of Pakistan like many other countries also came under the effect of Covid-19 and the stringent SOP's gave way to the local tourism in two consecutive years.
Responsible Traveling; Literal and Composite Definition
Here, it becomes pertinent to first comprehend the meaning of responsible traveling, after which we will toil to understand it in the case of Northern Areas with the help of defined parameters of responsible traveling. Ideally, responsible traveling works on the Win-win principle. The giving part of the Win-win principle is the one where the tourist directs his responsible tendency to bring about positive change in the local community and simultaneously in the eco-system. On the other hand, of the win-win principle, the tourist takes home the best of his memories which are cherished later wards. A composite definition of responsible traveling is, traveling which brings about a positive impact on the socio-economic domain and its overall significant influence on the eco-system whereby tourists and hosts co-exist side by side to gain the most out of a win-win scenario. After defining responsible traveling it becomes important to shed light on the parameters of responsible traveling.
The Parameters of Responsible Traveling
The parameters of responsible traveling are a set of predefined premises that the traveler has to observe in case to carry out responsible traveling. The parameters play a pivotal part in shaping the phenomenon of responsible traveling. The framework is given as under:
- To respect and recognize the core cultural values of the host community.
- To rule out negative socio-political and economic impacts and to be the beacon of hope.
- To take into consideration the greater good of the local community without the backdoor efforts to mold it.
- To be the source of the provision of economic opportunities to the local community.
- To recognize, accept and embrace cultural diversity.
- To understand the intricacy of cultural acculturation.
- To play a positive part in the restoration of cultural heritage.
- To be a source of inspiration for the youth of the local community.
So, the above mentioned are a handful of significant parameters with which compliance warrants responsible traveling.
A Case Study: Whether the Tourists visiting Northern areas are cognizant of their responsibilities?
In the month of July 2021, as usual the exotic land of Hunza, Gilgit Baltistan was undergoing flux of local tourism. The enlightened, highly hospitable, praiseworthy tolerant and extremely simple people of Hunza has this culture of local music which they arranged in the social milieu. They have had immense tolerance to welcome the others and show them their popular cultural souvenirs. But, an event entitled as the musical night show has made headlines across the country, jolted the locals, also generated buzz on social media and above all, the subjective interpretation of the event has added fuel to the fire. Surprisingly, what never happened before, was the ultimate disregard for local's cultural values, endorsement of pill culture and extreme indifference towards mother nature by disturbing the sustainable equilibrium between humans and nature. This episode is indicative of the fact that the local tourists visiting the Northern Areas are seldom cognizant of their responsibilities. Because, rave party culture drug culture, obscenity, and trash littered Hunza is highly unacceptable for the denizens. This state of profound irresponsibility on the part of tourists immensely exhibits the urgency to follow the parameters of responsible traveling otherwise irrevocable consequences will mar tourism and cause cultural onslaught of otherwise indigenous culture of Hunza.
The Significance of Responsible Traveling
The tremendous significance of responsible traveling is irrefutable. Because it positively influences the ecosystem and the local community. The snowball effect results in favorable outcomes. The ripple effect of responsible traveling can be better comprehended with the help of an illustration, for example, the responsible tourist namely Mr. XYZ visiting the Northern Areas will genuinely come close to the mother nature, he will be more humble towards the local community, and interact positively with the youth. These sensible acts will automatically pave the path for a successful endeavor. He will later weigh in his act of responsible traveling and will cherish the memories of his great expedition.
The Irrevocable Consequences of Irresponsible Traveling
The Northern Areas are bearing the brunt of reckless, irresponsible traveling attitude of tourists. This phenomenon of irresponsible traveling has negatively affected the ecosystem and the local communities of the Northern Areas. The land of purity will get sick if the same unmindful attitude of tourists has remained moreover, profanity, incendiary, and tons of trash alarmingly signal the utterly detached state of tourists. There is a stringent need to overcome the consequences of irresponsible traveling by adopting responsible tourism centric measures otherwise the land of purity will certainly loss its eccentric charm.
Prudent Measures to Ascertain Responsible Traveling
There exists numerous responsible measure which will bring about positive change and simultaneously the ecosystem as well as the local communities will take a sigh of relief. These measures are given as under:
1. Carry biodegradable litter bags to collect self disposed of trash
Responsibility begins by taking steps in the right direction irrespective of its magnitude. The biodegradable litter bags are one such right step in the right direction to fulfill the aim of responsible traveling.
2. Avoid over-tourism by visiting the South of Northern Areas
Hunza is the iconic destination for millions of tourists, and ten thousand flies towards Hunza by chocking down the Karakoram Highway (KKH), markets, and the main district Aliabad becomes jam-packed. The tourists can visit South of Northern Areas like district Ghizer to avoid over-tourism.
3. Refrain from heedless haggle in the local's domestic market
Tourism is a booster to local economies and the domestic market is their solo economic source. The heedless bargaining irks the owners of local markets because they display fixed possible rates for the local tourists and the international tourists.
4. Engage the youth in a productive yet self-liberating activity
Tourism leaves an impact on the youth bulge as well. Therefore, the tourists should engage the youth in self-liberating, productive activities rather the destructive ones. As fragile minds can easily undergo the induced change. Give the goodness to the youth, the youth will give it to the community.
5. Admire the cultural diversity without the effort to mold it
Another prudent measure to mirror responsible tourism is to admire the cultural diversity without the effort to mold this cultural characteristic. Cultural diversity is the defining feature which can be restored by just admiring, praising rather than opting for cultural onslaught.
6. Risk aversion calculation while taking zillion of intended selfies
The responsible traveling also comes with responsibility. The tourist should do risk-aversion calculation before jumping into the fire. Secondly, consent must be taken from the local community prior to photography as it is a pillar of tourism ethics.
7. Respect recognize and promote the core values of the local communities
The core values of local communities should be respected, recognized, and promoted. Respect begets respect in the hearts of involved participants. This process strengthens the bond between the tourist and the community and further promotes tourism industry.
8. Utilize organic means to cut down the soaring Carbon dioxide emissions
The Carbon emission is output of every human activity and tourism also comes under this category. Tourists can ensure their responsibility by reducing their reliance on transport emissions like bikes and buses. The tourists must rely upon sustainable means of transportation.
9. Full-fledge enlightenment regarding intricacy of cultural acculturation
The tourists must be aware of the intricacies of cultural acculturation. Because it can be a making and the breaking point between the tourist and the local community. So, in such a case beforehand enlightenment can aptly guide a tourist about the intricacies regarding cultural assimilation.
10. Cognizant of the key principal reuse, reduce and recycle phenomenon
The key principle of sustainable ecosystem is reuse, reduce and recycle phenomenon. The tourist must be cognizant of the 3R’s of recycling, which are, reusability of items, reduction of CFC’s emissions and the recycling of the reusable products.
What Huza has to offer to the well responsible tourists?
Conclusively, traveling also demands responsibility like other acts. As responsible traveling brings fruitful results at the level of the ecosystem and the local community. There exists tremendous significance of responsible traveling. On the contrary, irresponsible traveling only mars the ecosystem and the local community as in the case of the Northern Areas wherein It has drastically wreaked havoc. The alarming condition signals the need for the application of prudent measures otherwise the exquisite beauty of Northern Areas will evaporate and it will turn into another Muree. In short, tourists must observe and abide by the parameters of responsible traveling in the Northern Areas.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Farukh Nadeem