CAMAT promotes ecotourism in Chitral, northern Pakistan
The major objective of the association is to enhance income-earning opportunities for “poverty reduction through environmental-friendly and culture-rooted community-based eco-tourism in the remote mountainous region of Northern Pakistan”, through the financial support of UNESCO.
In order to achieve the above objective, CAMAT is undertaking the following activities:
- Protection of culture: CAMAT seeks to protect Indigenous cultures by reviving and promoting the age-old festivals and cultural events, such as Jashan-e-Chitral, Jashan-e-Shandur, Jashan-e-Qaqlasht and Jashan-e-Boroghil. All the above festivals are potential tourist products that provide entertainment to local and foreign tourists, as well as affording capacity building and income-earning opportunities for traditional cultural troupes and sportsmen in different regions of Chitral. By adding economic incentives to these events, CAMAT makes the protection of traditional cultura a desirable outcome for community members.
- Protection of environment: CAMAT intends to promote a form of tourism where the adverse impacts of tourist activities on the natural environment and culture are minimized and a balance is adopted for its procurement. At the end of local festivals, an elaborate waste disposal campaign is undertaken that involves local communities, Civil Society Organizations, environmental societies and school students.
- Capacity Building: To improve service quality of tourism stakeholders (hoteliers, tour guides, drivers and porters), CAMAT has been providing capacity-building training in collaboration with Adventure Foundation Pakistan and the Pearl Continental hotel group. Furthermore, CAMAT has registered 4-wheel drive jeeps bearing a registration plate ‘CAMAT Approved Vehicle’. The registration of the vehicles is renewed yearly after the engine’s condition has been serviced. In addition, a range of local reed instrument musicians have been trained, who are now efficiently marketing their skills during cultural festivals and shows, in addition to marriage parties, etc. that earn them handsome income. As part of the capacity-building drive, exposure visits for Jashan-e-Chitral Committee, hoteliers, musicians, tour guides, and CAMAT’s members have also been undertaken on many occasions.
- Media Campaign: Promoting Chitral as a must-visit destination has been CAMAT’s major goal, realized through the participation in events ranging from major festivals at national level such as the Lok Mela to indigenous festivals such as Jashan-e-Chitral, Jashan-e-Shandur, Jashan-e-Qaqlasht and Jashan-e-Boroghil and also workshops and conferences on the environment, etcetera. These events have been helpful in showcasing aspects of Chitral’s rich, unspoilt culture and nature that has already encouraged festival tourism. CAMAT has also highlighted Chitral as an attractive destination through both print and electronic media. As part of the media campaign, two landmark cultural movies titled ‘Nature and Culture of Chitral’ and ‘Between the Sky and Mountain’, have been developed by Mr Gael Metroz and UNESCO respectively.
- Advocacy: Advocacy campaign has been another area of intervention for CAMAT and we have launched an advocacy campaign with the district government to formulate laws conducive to the development of tourism. We have also undertaken advocacy campaigns with local communities to promote the cause of the environment and cultural protection while working in collaboration with other NGOs in the district.
In the future, CAMAT intends to strengthen its activities, which it has been working on for the last 5 years through the support of UNESCO to promote community-based eco-tourism in the remote mountainous region. To this end, we need supervision, guidance and from financial support from international NGOs working with an agenda to encourage community-based tourism while promoting the protection of traditional culture and the natural environment.
Published on 3/26/08