Ecotourism and Pakistan

It is the fast-moving age for mankind where you come across new ideas and terms on a daily basis, one of these innovative ideas is “Ecotourism”. Now, what does it mean? It’s a concept that has been developed in the 1980s by Hector Ceballos – Lascurain – who is a special adviser on Ecotourism to International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Director of Program Consultancy on Ecotourism. Its aim is to have a keen observation and understanding of the interaction between living beings and the environment. On the service side, it is the pattern of facilitating one’s travels with the activities that are not harmful to the environment of any specific location.

The tourism industry is growing exponentially all around the world. Local and international travel, popular destinations and easy visa access, all have been contributing to the tourism revenue stream. But it is alarming that the threat to the ecosystem is creating its mark with each passing day. Today the world tourism forum is eager to promote environmentally responsible travel to relatively undisturbed natural areas. This is to appreciate nature and to promote conservation of the ecosystem.

Ecotourism is on the rise globally but it needs awareness in Pakistan. Undoubtedly Pakistan is a land of nature and adventure. For its scenic beauty and remarkable attractions, it’s always been on the traveler’s bucket list both on local and international fronts. But we have witnessed deteriorating conditions recently such as the lost charm of Murree, highly littered northern lakes and also the extinction of natural habitat and rare animal breeds.

Markhor – National Animal of Pakistan, is on IUCN Red List as Near Threatened species since 2015.

If this continues, we’ll be at the verge of losing the tourism progression and hence the international reputation. To combat the situation here are a few suggested precautions:

  • The state can set up ecotourism laws and provide guidelines to travelers and service providers.
  • Civil society and media can promote ecotourism by public service messages.
  • Travelers ensure to travel with eco-friendly vehicles especially to up north.
  • Avoid activities such as bonfire with tree wood and wildlife hunting should be banned.
  • Do not throw garbage in public places and also avoid unnecessary use of plastic materials.
  • Planting trees could be another solution to simplify this situation, in fact Prime Minister has already announced a countrywide drive to plant 10 billion trees in five years.

There are a number of countries that have invested their funds for the preservation of the ecosystem and have succeeded in creating a win-win situation for both tourist and the country by pumping their tourism revenue into ecotourism. We can have Norway as an example where Fjord Norway is one of the four pivot destinations of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council’s program for new criteria of ecotourism. Costa Rica has developed Eco-friendly accommodations for preservation of natural environment. Consider Amazon Forest where locals have become guides to lead tourists around the forest. Also, you can take insight from Iceland that has recently become a top tourist destination and is the cleanest energy consumer in the world.

With these inspirations, we hope for a sustainable ecotourism system for Pakistan in the near future. Our territory is blessed with natural beauty and adventurous domains and with ecotourism we can improve the tourism industry and Pakistan’s global image. So what’s your take on ecotourism?