In the past few months, Pakistan was recognized as one of the top tourism countries in 2020 and that the country is a must-see for wanderlust travelers. Pakistan does hold many wonders and beauty, but the local populations hold concerns with this increase in tourism.
For many years, Pakistan was painted as a dangerous, undesirable, “third world country” that people in the west avoided. Today, people are curious to learn more about Pakistan and the different cultures and landscapes that reside within its borders. Pakistanis in the major cities, such as Karachi, Islamabad, and Lahore are used to receiving tourists and providing hospitality, but the spike in tourism is a new experience for Pakistanis living in villages or smaller towns.
Northern Pakistan has been getting many tourists from around the world because there are beautiful mountains and lakes in that part of the country. The local residents are happy to help the tourists by providing them with a place to stay and with food, but it has become a straining role for them. The tourists that have been visiting northern Pakistan have been littering large amounts of trash and plastic in these areas. It has created a new pollution concern for the country, especially because this pollution is located in mountains, forests and lakes. In a way, the tourists are ruining the beauty that they came to see.
“Most tourists are wonderful, but some are just so dirty. They come here to see our beautiful region, and they leave their trash behind,” said a local gym teacher in Murtazabad. Gilgit-Balistan has been a very popular site for tourists because Himalayan salt rocks are produced there and exported to the rest of the world. There are also many rivers and apple orchards in the area, that have attracted lots of visitors. The locals have had to add signs in English and in Urdu that urges tourists any visitors to pick up their trash and dispose of them properly.
The trash is a larger issue than just littering. This pollution is occurring in the part of the country that does not have the infrastructure to carry out large piles of trash. This will lead to the local residents being stuck with the pollution which could lead to harming the natural environment and illnesses amongst the people.
As happy as Pakistanis are to provide hospitality to tourists and visitors, they are as concerned that their home will be harmed due to the negative side effects of pollution.