‘Ecotourism a must for sustainable local development’

‘Ecotourism a must for sustainable local development’


Islamabad, AUG 20: The experts call for practicing ecotourism for sustainable development of local resources and communities. Speaking to the participants of the National Centre for Rural Development Three-day training workshop on ‘Ecotourism and Sustainable Development’, they urged the participants to play their role in practicing the ecotourism framework right from individual and family picnics to larger group tourism.

The experts also urged the authorities to ensure implementation of sustainable development models in letter and spirit engaging community-based interventions. The provincial government shall devolve powers to union council level and develop a system for local development and community empowerment.

As many as 34 mainly mid-career professionals from different cities including northern parts of Pakistan participated in the three-day training workshop. It was organized by the Akhtar Hameed Khan National Centre for Rural Development (NCRD), and concluded on Sunday.

The expert trainers included founder and director Pakistan Mountain Festival and Executive Director Devcom-Pakistan Munir Ahmed, EvK2CNR Scientific Advisor Ashiq Ahmed Khan, PTDC managing Director Aftab-ur-Rehman, former IG Forests Syed Nasir Mahmood and former bureaucrat Zafarullah Siddiqi.

Director Devcom-Pakistan Executive Munir Ahmed conducted a brainstorming session based on the SWOT analysis. He also presented a 10-point action agenda for the participants to take upon their future discourse. He urged the provincial governments to urgently form and establish the provincial tourism coordination boards, and the local tourism coordination committees to ensure ecotourism practices. The infrastructure at the tourist destinations shall be environment friendly.               

Munir Ahmed emphasized on assessment of the carrying capacity of all the destinations empowered by a robust monitoring system, community communication and education to conduct tourism in their areas on sustainable development parameters.

Ashiq Ahmed Khan said tourists go to the far-flung areas for living with nature, and watching the biological diversity. These resources must be protected through the ecotourism policies and practices by engaging all the stakeholders. Every tourist destination has very peculiar resources and landscapes that can be used in the “watch and enjoy” formula. The local communities, he urged, shall be empowered for raising their local challenges to authorities for a policy change, and educate the tourists about conservation of their local natural resources, biodiversity and wildlife.

Aftab-ur-Rehman Rana said the government is making every effort to promote tourism in the country and in the next two years there will be a lot of development in the tourism industry. He said that several tourism projects were in the final stages of completion which would further improve the tourist arrivals in the country. Pakistan has an amazing landscape, natural beauty, history, rich culture, and heritage. The three mountain ranges, glaciers, lakes, valleys, and unique wild flora and fauna can attract tourism from both local and foreign markets. He said that the British Backpacker Society (BBS) has ranked Pakistan as the world’s top adventure travel destination.