When it comes to Winter Sports half of Kaghan Valley is disconnected from world in winter season (From November to May) due to heavy snow consists of glaciers and land sliding. As I explained in my previous post, Kaghan Valley is not only a place for trekking and mountaineering but could also be world class ski destination. However, unfortunately due to lack of Infrastructure required to ski in terms of chair lifts, cable cars and professional ski gear providers and resort with slopes, the destination does not offer opportunities to ski lovers both local and foreigners living or inbound travelers. The travelers or winter sports’ lovers are left with only an option to do heliski in the valley.
Recently, in February this year more than than 60 foreign skiers participated in Heliski expedition in Shogran, a hilly destination at a height of 7,749ft in Kaghan Valley. A week long Heliski endeavor was held with success due to partnership between Afiniti and ISPR.
Per the military’s media cell (ISPR), the challenge included in excess of sixty outside skiers including participation from significant dignitaries from various countries.
The press proclamation said that the undertaking was to “advance the travel industry and investigate huge capability of Pakistan’s snow clad mountains for experience sports”.
As an opening event the participants met with Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa. The endeavor individuals also visited the ISPR Directorate where DG Major General Babar Iftikhar shared about improved security conditions in Pakistan for sports and the travel industry.
The participating members included men and women from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Greece, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom and the United States. Princess Beatrice of York, a member of the British royal family, and other prominent European leaders including the former Prime Minister of Spain Jose Maria Aznar, former Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and English cricketer David Gower were part of the group of skiers.
With all these PR related events to better the image of Pakistan, a million dollar question arises that how an ordinary skier or a traveler can afford or have an access to reach Kaghan Valley in prime winter time when snow filled slopes offer best opportunity to ski. How we can achieve sustainability and create a ski destination for all travelers? How can we promote this beautiful valley as a destination when we don’t offer access to normal travelers? Are all ski lovers can get on helis or should this sport be restricted to only show case the PR image that we have ski destinations. Countries where ski was promoted as sports or as means of attracting tourists, basic infrastructure was created, local community was involved and made such facilities open to public to develop, educate, promote this sports as one of the destination’s main economic contributor.
I humbly request the Tourism Corporation of KP (TCKP), Federal Govt (NTCB) and the sports ministry to consider developing destinations for the common public so such raw valleys can remain open throughout the year and most importantly open access to public and local communities to enjoy this sports and the overall destination. It is about time that sufficient PR is done around camera filled lenses and time to develop basic infrastructure i.e. roads, sanitation, emergency clinics and most importantly a framework of tourism with keeping local domestic and international traveler.