Gilgit-Baltistan is popular for its rich & diversified culture, natural beauty & landscape, and for technologically advanced, progressive & modernized society. The addition of tourism has given the area a new outlook and enlightened the locals with modern means of economic development & business prospects. This has also changed the socio-cultural fabric of the area.
Moreover, it has escalated the level of cultural interaction and socialized people to have good relations in the community which in turn has deepened their social life. Tourism has increased the value of Gilgit-Baltistan & specifically Hunza, due to its historical and scenic beauty. In contrast, tourism has also created a high ultimatum for public service expenses not only for residents but for tourists also, in the form of roads, transportation, and other expenditures as well as the price of products has also increased. Moreover, tourists visit northern areas to enjoy their vacations while the local people do their daily life work. Sometimes it causes multiple disturbances and intrusions between the two clusters because in some cases the tourists show undesirable behaviors which may affect the social life of the local people.
Socio-cultural implications of tourism on the quality of life
With the growing tourism, the quality of life has improved as the local populace’s wealth has increased owing to tourism. As the money has started inflowing in the area, the locals have started investing in improving their quality of life and standard of living. It’s obvious that tourism is contributing to improving the quality of life, because of tourism people are generating income that is directly or indirectly benefiting every individual. This means that with the circulation of money in the area the lifestyle of people has changed, new job opportunities have originated with other opportunities that have simultaneously improved the lives of people.
Furthermore, a person running a shop, restaurant, or hotel earns a good amount from his business that has a positive impact on his living standards. It is understandable that to live a better life people need money and people want to have a standard and quality life. Although the quality of life of the locals has changed, it has also greater implications on the indigenous culture. The local culture has been exposed to different cultures that are brought by the domestic & international tourists. There are many aspects of culture that have transformed and the locals have adapted to new ones. Few of these aspects include the lifestyle of the locals, food intake, dressing, innovation & modernization that have changed. Thus, there is a direct relationship between the development in tourism and development in the quality of life of the inhabitants.
Socio-cultural implications of tourism on the health & Hygiene
Tourism has given exposure to the local inhabitants of Gilgit-Baltistan in many facets; one of these aspects includes health & hygiene. No doubt the locals have learned a lot from the tourists in terms of living a healthy & clean life, taking care of the sanitation & sewerage system in terms of cleanliness and many more things. With it, it has also some negative implications on the locals in terms of intake of the inorganic food while giving up to organic foods like fruits, vegetables, etc.
The area is agrarian & mountainous; people grow fruits and vegetables for their life stock. But the trend has changed as the locals have started selling out organic food to purchase inorganic ones. The issue is that the locals are striving for a quality of life and it is misunderstood that to be called developed one needs to buy inorganic foods like eating junk foods, cold drinks & other artificial spices. Now people have started to consume chicken artificially grown by hormones, they have started to eat genetically modified fruits, vegetables and are selling organic food like apples, apricot, etc. As tourism is growing day by day, the local resource will outer the market. There will be a scarcity in resources and the locals will consume unhealthy things. Therefore, the local residents need to alter their approach and they must reap more benefits from land and other than the hoteling industry. Also, people are getting more education and they are well aware that how organic food along with a hygienic environment is mandatory for living a healthy life.
Socio-cultural implications of tourism on Education & Learning
Tourism has greater implications on the education & learning as the locals especially Youth learn a lot from the visitors who come from different backgrounds & culture. This may include both positive & negative implications. In a positive sense when income is generated from tourism, the locals invest them on their children’s education and in improving their quality of life. It is obvious that money matters a lot. When the locals have money they teach their children in a well-known school, colleges and universities.
Thus, tourism contributes a lot to the quality of life & wealth of the region. On contrary, the youth also learn some negative aspects from the tourists who come for vacations, they portray their unique & variety of culture and way of life. It is obvious that the locals will get inspiration from them. They will also try to follow them, dress up like them, travel and drive like them. It will perceptibly affect the way of life of the locals. Thus, the local people will try to find ways to copy from the outsiders & it will greatly effect on their way of living & may interrupt the local culture.
Socio-cultural implications of tourism & Technological Advancement
The bang of social media and the crack of technological advancement has moved tourism to another level. A few years back very few people have ideas about Gilgit-Baltistan. After the growth of social media, the area has become a brand for domestic as well as foreign tourists. People from all around the world visit the area for their vacations.
The local culture has got popularity and it has become a source of inspiration & attraction for many people around the globe. Moreover, the publicity and advertisement of such touristic places are visualized on different media platforms and it has developed the area in terms of economic, social, and cultural facets. Also, through Vlogs, photography & other means the beauty of the area is being revealed to the world. Thus, with the advancement in technology, the socio-culture outlook of the area has moved towards innovation & change and the world is now familiar with the local culture of the area.
Socio-cultural implications of tourism & publicity of the local products
Tourism has greatly benefited the area; the local products like handicrafts, embroideries, stonework, carving, local music, food, and local dance are those aspects of the culture that got popularity because of growing tourism in the area. The handicrafts are made tourist-oriented and most of them are sold to the tourists which in turn helps them to earn a handsome amount from it. Women play a significant role in promoting such artifacts like in making James, cutting, polishing, carving, embroideries, stonework, and making local food items, which mostly involves women labor. Woolen fabric is also included and the males also play a significant role but most of the roles are played by women, they are dominated in these works.
Furthermore, cultural products are promoted through different kinds of exhibitions to facilitate the people coming from the south or international tourists. In every household, women make different kinds of embroideries, carpets, and handicrafts that are promoted through different events. Moreover, different kinds of dishes cooked in the area are also served to guests to portray the local culture through foods. The area is rich with diversified culture and different ethnic backgrounds and people have their unique kind of festivals and local events. The local people can get benefit from tourism by promoting their culture through organizing various fiestas, which will help in preserving the unique culture of the area and it will also give them economic benefit. Therefore, tourism can have a positive effect on the local culture if it will be promoted in a better way.
Tourism has a greater impact on the local culture and social setting in Gilgit-Baltistan; people are getting exposed to new cultures. As a result, it has both positive and negatives changes observed in the area with the increasing flow of tourists. Some people take it in a positive way and some have observed negative impacts on the cultural values and life style of the local communities.
Moreover, the attitude and behavior of the tourists also have a greater impact on the locals. Mostly, the youth are greatly affected by the attitudes, behaviors, and lifestyle of the tourists that may influence their way of living both in a positive as well as negative way. Besides, the cultural products & artifacts are also adding value to the local culture and the local economy as well; the marketing of these cultural products, local festivals, and exhibitions are the best platforms to promote the local culture and tourism in the area. In addition, the cultural values are changing because of tourism, and some aspects of the local culture are promoted by the influx of tourism, and both the locals and tourists are influencing each other in one or another way. To have a smooth relation between tourists and the local people, tourists & the locals must have knowledge and understanding about their distinctive cultures and must not interfere in each other’s cultures & way of life.
Written by Nahida Karim