Adventure tourism can be the best source of income for Gilgit Baltistan ‘s citizens if the government gives industry status to this sector and eliminates obstacles from its way.
Gilgit Baltistan has everything a tourist can think of. A prospering tourism sector can become an engine of change to help its people to recover from years of deprivation and backwardness.
Four of the world’s 8,000 meter high peaks – K2 (8611m), the second-highest peak in the world, the Broad Peak (8060m), Gasherbrum – I (8068m), Gasherbrum – II (8036m) are in Baltistan.
Besides hundreds of other lofty and beautiful peaks, including MashaBrum, Laila, K7, and Trango Tower are also here. Gigantic glaciers like Baltoro, Biafo, Hisper, Bilafond and Siachen (the largest outside the polar region) add to the tourism potential of Baltistan.
In the past, the Baltistan region remained isolated and hidden from the eyes of the people living in the rest of the world for a long period. The area was a little introduced when an Italian Karakoram Expedition led by Prof. Dr. A. Dasio conquered K2 in 1954 for the first time.
Skardu Airport was established in 1960. Later, when the region was connected to the rest of the world through Karakoram Highway, Baltistan not only introduced itself to the developing world but, also changed its lifestyle drastically, as the majority of its inhabitants were associated with tourism-related businesses.
Gilgit Baltistan became popular for mountaineering and trekking in 1974 when Pakistan’s government opened up Northern Areas to adventure tourism.
Each year thousands of trekkers, mountaineers and visitors from all over the world began moving Gilgit Baltistan for adventure purposes. The tourism industry in the area was thriving, benefiting the people connected with it.
Unfortunately, after the post-9/11 incident and the later war against terrorism in the world, this glittering tourism industry has suffered severely. Despite security perceptions, fewer international tourists have been visiting Pakistan for a decade.
When the tourists visit the mountains, rivers, glaciers, passes, still, lochs, plateaus like Deosai and other beautiful tourist spots of Gilgit Baltistan their perceptions of Pakistan undergo a complete change.
With the passage of time, the security situation in the country is improved and the tourism sector of Gilgit seems to be flourishing once again.