Mountain climber attack could end Pakistan tourism

The killings in what was considered a safe part of the country could be the 'fatal blow' to a once-thriving industry.

By Bruce Kennedy Jun 25, 2013 9:29AM

Pakistani soldiers carry coffins of foreign tourists at Chaklala airbase in Rawalpindi, Pakistan on June 23, 2013 (© STR/AFP/Getty Images)A deadly attack over the weekend on a group of foreign mountain climbers in Pakistan has had more than the expected geopolitical repercussions. It's also another blow to Pakistan's troubled economy and fading tourism sector.

At least nine foreigners, including an American, were killed Saturday at the base camp of Pakistan's Nanga Parbat -- the world's ninth-tallest mountain and part of the Himalayan range. A local faction of the Taliban claimed culpability and said the assault was in revenge for recent drone attacks in Pakistan.

The BBC reports that all expeditions on Nanga Parbat have been halted. And Naiknam Karim, with the Pakistan Association of Tour Operators, said the attacks are a "disaster" for the country's Gilgit-Baltistan region, which was previously considered safe and where tourism is the main source of income.

Karim told Agence France-Press that before 9/11, more than 20,000 foreigners visited the region annually to climb and trek, spending of thousands and in some cases tens of thousands of dollars. But those numbers have since fallen to about 5,000 a year.

"Pakistan was earning a huge amount from mountaineering teams," Sultan Khan, who manages expeditions for foreign mountaineers, told AFP, "and the financial losses will run into millions of dollars if teams stop coming to Pakistan."

Despite the country's dangerous reputation, Pakistan's tourism industry had been growing in recent years and brought in $350 million in 2011. Pakistan's towering mountains and alpine scenery continued to draw visitors and climbing expeditions.

But Manzoor Hussain, the president of the Alpine Club of Pakistan, told Reuters that Saturday's attack was a "fatal blow" to efforts to attract more climbers and tourists to the region.

"I haven't slept since yesterday. It's a very sad situation," Ghulam Muhammed told the wire service. Muhammed's company, Blue Sky Treks and Tours, worked with five of the climbers killed in Saturday's attack.

"I am very worried, now business is finished, today two or three have canceled, it is difficult now," he added. "In Gilgit-Baltistan, a lot of the economy is from tourism -- the money goes to transporters, hotels, markets, porters, guides and cooks."

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Jun 25, 2013 10:40AM
Let's get out of the middle east, leave em with a bunch of body bombs,  and let the sand rats kill each other off.  I am sick to death of these vile middle eastern creatures!
Jun 25, 2013 1:10PM
Anyone who travels to this sewer...that includes ALL of the middle eat...has got to be a bright as a bag of hammers...and is just asking for trouble.
Jun 25, 2013 1:47PM
Perhaps the locals can hunt down and kill the Taliban for ruining their livelyhoods...........better for Pakistan if they take care of their own evils. 
Jun 25, 2013 8:32PM
Why is it that when the Pakistani's, Afghans, Africans, Taliban and most of the rest of the middle east countries population pop up in stories, they look like they still live in the sixth century, do you ever stop to think, they may not want to emerge out of their desperation into modern societies, maybe they don't want running water, toilets or even toilet paper or real shoes, or even a better life for their kids, unlike western cultures maybe they don't want to embrace other cultures love of modern conveniences, prosperity or love of adventure. Maybe, just maybe, they are just so intent on hating modern times, modern societies and our prosperity that just maybe we should leave them to their despair, quit trying to understand them or change them or accept them, maybe we should just stay in our part of the world and let them have theirs, OR maybe when our illustrious community organizer has finished here, he can go there, make a pilgrimage and enlighten them, he says we should be friendlier, kinder, more understanding, I think a role model of his stature would serve that noble cause, what higher calling could there be for the omnipotent one. Surely they would embrace and understand him, and then all these idiot mountain climbers that want to go waste a bunch of time and money just to freeze their a**es off climbing a stupid mountain would be welcome and they could come back home and share their adventures with us.
Jun 25, 2013 4:11PM
Ghulam Muhammed is not concerned about the 9 people killed and their families.  He is only concerned about his business.  Foreigners are fools to go to a terrorist nation for tourism.
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