Tourism at stake: Tour operators demand security for tourists

Published: June 24, 2013
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A traffic warden guides ambulances carrying the bodies of foreign tourists. PHOTO: REUTERS

A traffic warden guides ambulances carrying the bodies of foreign tourists. PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD / GILGIT: 

The deadly attack on foreign tourists in Gilgit-Baltistan has prompted calls for setting up a special force to provide security to travellers.

“We need to have a special tourism force to provide security to tourists,” General Secretary of G-B Tour Operators Association Anwar said while talking to reporters on Sunday.

Tour operators termed the incident lethal for the tourism industry in Pakistan and demanded that the government make drastic efforts to revive it. “Hundreds of thousands of people are part of this industry, so the government must come up with a plan to revive it,” he said.

He added that the government should grant loans to tour operators as the incident at the Nanga Parbat base camp could result in cancellation of several expedition groups to G-B.

In a predawn attack, gunmen dressed as paramilitary forces killed ten foreign tourists in an unprecedented attack in base camp of Nanga Parbat in Diamer valley of G-B.

At least three Chinese and an equal number of Ukrainian climbers were killed in the attack on the base camp, an unmanned area not previously associated with violence or militancy.

The ten foreign tourists murdered belonged to three different expeditions that were planning to scale the 8,126-metre peak. They were killed at the base camp on the mountain’s west face, the Diamer face.

Four of the foreign tourists – two Chinese, one Chinese-American and a Nepali Sherpa – killed during the attack were part of a 14-member expedition organised by the Nepal-based Seven Summit trekking and expedition company, according to a representative of the Nazir Sabir expedition. The Nazir Sabir expedition was facilitating Seven Summit in Pakistan, the representative, said.

The representative said the 14-member Seven Summit expedition included nine Sherpas and five members of different nationalities.

Five of the slain tourists belonged to a 10-member expedition that was being helped by the Blue Sky tour operator, a Blue Sky employee told The Express Tribune.  Three of the five were Ukrainians and the remaining two were Slovakians, a Blue Sky employee said. He clarified that the other five members escaped harm because they had moved to an upper camp adding that the rest of the members had been transported back to Gilgit.

One Lithuanian man killed in the attack was part of the 33-member International Nanga Parbat Expedition 2013, helped by the Jasmine Tours.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 24th, 2013.

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