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Seminar on Tourism and Its Socioeconomic, Political and Environmental Impact in Hunza

A team of 11 young researchers presented their case studies on responsible tourism at GB Boys Degree College, Hunza on 1st September 2018. The objective of the seminar was to sensitize local masses with the dire need to manage tourism and also to initiate discussions for the promotion of responsible tourism.

Haider Buluk

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Seminar on Tourism and Its Socioeconomic, Political and Environmental Impact in Hunza held in Aliabad

The researchers tried to shed light on the importance of preservation of culture, tradition, heritage and most importantly environment while maintaining the hospitality tradition of Hunza people. The researchers collectively argued that tourism industry should translate into rural development through strategies of pro-poor policies and resisting urbanization.

Seminar on Tourism and Its Socioeconomic, Political and Environmental Impact in Hunza held in Aliabad

The presentation also included a dialogue between young researchers and the audience. A major research report tracing demographics, perceptions, preferences and behavioral patterns of tourists was shared. It was followed by other case studies on topics like women’s earning pattern, infrastructure, the commodification of local food, waste management, child labor, women’s mobility and presence in public spaces, career choices among youth and loss of locals’ ownership of land. The researchers were open to feedback on their work with due consideration of the study’s limitations.

Asst. Prof. Sher Ali

Asst. Prof. Sher Ali

Principal GB Govt. Boys Degree College Hunza, Asst. Prof. Sher Ali welcomed the team and said, “it is heart-warming to see youth of Hunza contributing their time and efforts for the society and it is very promising to see them investing their energies in research”.

Elucidating the theme of conference Iram Shaista Khan, the team lead, presented the major research and briefed the participants about the dire need of social mobilization, community resilience and policy guidelines for the management of tourism in Hunza. She opened the stage for critical assessment of how irresponsible tourism is effecting Hunza both socially and environmentally.

Iram Shaista Khan

Iram Shaista Khan

She said that out of the total, 97% of tourists use private transportation and only 2.1% of visitors are using public transportation to come to Hunza. This statistic is alarming, with respect to carbon emissions and the urgent threats posed due to vulnerabilities of the region. Her research provided significant findings which can be used in the future to come up with an informed policy for tourism in GB.

Safiullah Baig, the guest speaker, shared his views on how drastically the culture and ecology of Hunza have been affected in the last few decades. He said managing tourism is important because it has become a matter of survival for the poor indigenous people.

Sultan Madad

Sultan Madad

The main findings of the case studies include the increase in unplanned constructions, congestion in Public Spaces, lack of parking areas, restrictions on local female mobility, increase in earning opportunities for women, increased demand for local food leading to modifications, loss of locals’ land ownership due to monopoly business practices of non-locals, possibility of commodification of natural resources, absence of construction by-laws, low capacity of waste management institutions, incineration of huge amounts of plastic, lack of awareness about environmental issues, students leaving school to start tourist enterprises, child labor, increased employment opportunities for youth and seasonal employment.

Haider Ali

Haider Ali

Gari Khan’s study highlighted the issues of waste management. He revealed that out of total waste 82.3% consists of plastic and the only waste processing method is incineration in open areas. “Due to non-local monopoly businesses the locals are getting stripped of their land,” said Haider Ali, further elaborated how this is likely to lead towards privatization of natural resources. Other speakers include Nasira Bano, Bibi Fatima, Humaira Bano, Sadia, Naheed Akhter and Bibi Nelofar.

Sultan Madad, a senior activist of Gilgit-Baltistan, appreciating the hard work of the researchers said that people have to take immediate actions to manage tourism in Hunza by reinforcing the existing village rules and customary laws. He asked for the mobilization of youth to work for the betterment of the society. Tajir Hussian Lecturer, Development Studies appreciated the presenters for spreading awareness and stressed on the importance of grassroots research for the informed policymaking.

Asghar Khan, Manager Hunza Serena Hotel (Baltit Inn) described in detail the concept of Responsible Tourism. He highlighted the importance of maximizing benefits for the local community through the utilization of local material and local human resource.

In conclusion, the audience stressed that every region of GB should benefit from the emerging tourism industry and such kind of research should be conducted, in order to, prepare locals for “Responsible Tourism” management; which should benefit local economy while minimizing risks for society and ecology.

Haider Ali is studying Sociology at F.C. College, Lahore. He is from Hunza Valley and is interested in studying and sharing his views about the affairs of Gilgit-Baltistan.

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In Pictures: His Highness Aga Khan’s First Visit to Hunza in 1960

Imran Ahmed Hunzai

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Aga Khan in Hunza 1960
Photos: Abdul M. Ismaily

On this day in 1960, His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan made his historic first visits to Hunza and laid down the foundation of what we know as a model valley today. Since then, Hunza has come a long way and developed into a model valley for many. Every year on 23rd October, Ismailis of Hunza Valley celebrate this day as “Salgirah” to commemorate Aga Khan’s visit to Hunza for the first time.

During the first visit of His Highness Aga Khan to Hunza, photographer Abdul M. Ismaily took numerous photos that remained unseen for decades. However, in 2016, Simerg Photos released a number of pictures of this historic visit with the permission of Abdul M. Ismaily’s family.

On this happy occasion for the Ismailis of Hunza, GBee is pleased to share some of the photographs from Aga Khan’s first visit to Hunza in 1960.

Attached by pulley to the third cable was a wooden box, five feet square, with sides rising 18 inches. This was the only way to Hunza. The five journalists which included two Americans were horrified, and despite urging from Pir Ali Allana, the Aga Khan’s advance man, none would get into the box. Far across the river, men pulled on a rope, and, swaying and shaking, the box shot out over the swift-flowing stream of Hunza River. Today, the Nasirabad Bridge stands in this place.
Ismaili Volunteers with community leaders during the preparations to receive H.H. The Aga Khan at Baltit Polo Ground in Karimabad, Hunza.
Col. Ayash Khan, the brother of Mir Jamal Khan, the last royal ruler of Hunza, is seen standing in a uniform with members of the royal family of Hunza outside the royal palace in Hunza where His Highness the Aga Khan resided during his visit in 1960.
Aga Khan first visit to Hunza Valley 1960
Aga Khan in Hunza 1960

H.H. Aga Khan in conversation with Mir of Hunza.
Aga Khan in Hunza 1960
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AKAH Celebrates Global Handwashing Day 2019

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A Hunza school girl at Al Murtaza School in Hunza Valley, Gilgit-Baltistan
AKAH in collaboration with other AKDN and government agencies is campaigning for “Clean Hands for All”. Photo: Imran Hunzai / AKDN

Aga Khan Agency of Habitat (AKAH) in close coordination with other Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) agencies, Government Departments, civil bodies and media groups celebrated Global Handwashing Day 2019. 

A number of activities and events were designed and organized at the school level across districts in Gilgit- Baltistan. These activities aimed at campaigning for better hygiene. 

school kids in Aga Khan Diamond Jubilee School Hunza Valley, Gilgit-Baltistan
Global Handwashing Day 2019: Aga Khan Agency for Habitat, through its School Health Improvement Programme (SHIP), is sensitizing school children and management across vulnerable communities for hygienic practices, including handwashing with soap.
A Hunza kid washing hands
AKAH is spreading smiles through providing access to safe drinking water and educating communities for handwashing with soap, under its Water And Sanitation Education Programme (WASEP), to prevent diseases and save lives.
AKESP Global Handwashing Day 2019
Students at AKES, P school in Chatorkhand are demonstrating handwashing in an event organized to campaign for hygienic practices on Global Handwashing Day.
school kids in Al Murtaza School Hunza Valley, Gilgit-Baltistan
The students of AKES, P school in Murtazabad Hunza are learning the steps of Handwashing with the help of health hygiene trainers.
Representatives of AKDN on Global Handwashing Day 2019
Representatives of AKDN agencies emphasized addressing “Handwashing disparities to prevent diseases and save lives”, in events organized to mark Global Handwashing Day, 2019.
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