GILGIT: The leading hotel in Gilgit – Baltistan, Serena hotel continues to play its role in promoting responsible tourism in the region.
In this connection, Hunza Serena Inn celebrated World Responsible Tourism Day today on Wednesday (4th November 2015) as an “Official Supporter of World Travel Market (WTM) supported by UNWTD” reinforcing its commitment to operating as a responsible tourism business and its dedication to bringing about positive change within the tourism industry in Pakistan, a press release said.
Responsible Tourism, as defined by the 2002 Cape Town Declaration for Responsible Tourism is an approach to travel that includes respect of local natural resources, cultural heritage, and human value. Travelers are encouraged to be aware of their environmental, social and economic impact. “creates better places for people to live in and better places for people to visit.” Since 2005 individuals, companies and organizations around the world have been celebrating World Responsible Tourism Day (WRTD) to assist build a more solid and sustainable future for the travel and tourism industry.
This year Hunza Serena Inn participated in WTM WRTD for the fourth time and hold a responsible tourism day session, attended by Hotels Association Hunza and Nagar, Bazaar Committee Karimabad and Aliabad, Hunza Environmental Committee, Town Management representative of Karimabad, Aliabad, Altit, & Ganish, Agar Khan Higher Secondary School Girls Karimabad, Hasigawa Memorial Public School, Aswa School Ganish, Representative of Altit and Baltit Fort, representative of Aga Khan Rural Support Program, Aga Khan Cultural Serves Pakistan, Aga Khan Health Services Pakistan, President of Ismaili Council Altit, Baltit and Aliabad, Karakoram Area Development Organization, Tour Operators, Local Support Organization Representatives of Baltit, Altit, and Local Media representatives, the overriding theme was promoting Hunza / Nagar as tourism destination for better environment for all Communities and Travelers.
Asghar Khan, Manager, Hunza Serena Inn present his presentation on WRTD importance and Serena Hotel’s activities in Responsible Tourism, he said traditionally all organizations only measure the “bottom line” meaning the financial bottom line however in Responsible Tourism we measure our social impacts, environmental impacts as well as our financial impacts to the community, we not only focus on our very own environmental and social issues but those of our community. As key tourism stakeholders in each destination it is import that we understand the key issues that exist and priorities the areas that we can make a positive contribution.
This means developing relationships and working with Community, NGO’s, development agencies, researchers etc to help us in these areas, Serena Hotels as we are located in relatively isolated destinations, we cannot rely in our traditional sales strategy of selling rooms. We have change our old habit to sell an overall experience and that means selling the destination as well as our hotels.
The local community not being educated on what the tourism business opportunities are in their area and larger more affluent business people come in from outside and take the opportunities or educating the communities on what tourists expect from them and what the possible benefits or negative impacts are. We have identified that there is a lot more that we can / should be doing to develop linkages at a local level to fulfil the needs of the tourism supply chain in Gilgit-Baltistan.
During the session all stakeholders, discussed on Economic, Social and Environmental positive and negative impacts of tourism which is to be faced in future in Hunza / Nagar, the issues facing in Hunza and Nagar, was rock choking by private companies, Tourists are suffering Public Toilet facility which is not available, polythene plastic bags should be banned in all shops, Cars parking space is a big issue and clear water issues. The positive impacts will be the Policy of Gilgit-Baltistan Tourism and Environment Protection Agency will help for implementation, in the session it was recommended that with the help of AKDN or NGOs to form of Hotel Associations, Transportation Association, Tour Guide Association, small Tourism Enterprises will help the tourism industry, Local Support Organization can help solving the social issues of the region, Gilgit-Baltistan forestry department and hotels can play role to reduce the environment impacts by plantations and awareness to travelers. Gilgit-Baltistan Tourism Department can play his role by building capacity to promote the destination for authentic experience.