GILGIT: If you are a tourist in Gilgit-Baltistan and are unable to find a place to stay, you can simply enter a school building. There is a strong likelihood that you will find accommodation that is free
Thousands of tourists visit the region to escape the sizzling heat and enjoy the breathtaking view of valleys, plateaus and rivers. As a result of the influx, hotels were packed to capacity and failed to accommodate more people. Most tourists were forced to stay outdoors without proper arrangements and security.
“Facilitating tourists is our top priority, they are our guests,” said G-B Chief Minister Hafeezur Rehman while chairing a meeting. The situation triggered by the influx of tourists was reviewed.
“Since schools are closed due to summer vacations, the school building should be opened for tourists so that they can stay there.”
The chief minister also asked the administration to set up 22 tent villages in different valleys to accommodate tourists. The chief secretary’s office has taken notice of these directives and issued instructions to the relevant officials in valleys.
According to official statistics, over 250,000 tourists have visited Gilgit so far. The influx continues and it is expected that more than 0.5 million tourists will visit G-B by October.
“There are more than 40,000 tourists in Hunza, Nagar and Gojal at this time,” said Imtiaz Hussain, a businessman who returned to Gilgit from Gojal. “There are motorbikes, cars and people everywhere.”
The influx was triggered by the opening of Babusar Road that links G-B to the scenic Naran – destination that received record breaking number of tourists this month.
According to an official statement, the regional government has decided to privatise state-run guesthouses in the region. “The decision is to promote tourism,” the statement read.
Meanwhile, as compared to last year when 0.5 million tourists had flocked G-B, the region will most likely see the numbers doubled.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 22nd, 2016.