Posted on 11 July 2011.
Source(Express Tribune) People travelling from Rawalpindi to Gilgit via the Karakoram Highway (KKH) have complained that hotels on the 600 kilometre-long journey provide substandard services.
Tourists, both foreign and domestic, complained that hotels established along the route to Gilgit in Abbottabad, Mansehra, Bisham, Chilas and Jogulote provide substandard food and lodging at exorbitant rates, and remain unchecked by the relevant authorities. They also complained that the transporters have partnered with specific hotels and refuse to stop at hotels of the passengers’ preference for lodging or food.
Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) is known all over the world for its breathtaking beauty and unique topography and attracts a large number of domestic and foreign tourists, particularly during the summer.
“This could be one of the most fantastic journeys in the world if the government arranges better hotels along the route,” said Amin Khalid, a tourist from Lahore who recently visited Gilgit with his family. He blamed the government for failing to make arrangements to facilitate tourists or even general travellers.
Akhlaq Ahmed, another tourist from Multan said, “First they provide us with food that is substandard and unhygienic, and then they charge us such high rates, it’s ridiculous!” He said there are no proper toilets in these hotels, which is a problem for passengers, particularly those travelling with their families.
He said that the airfare charged by Pakistan International Airlines for Gilgit is substantial, and that, coupled with the unavailability of flights due to bad weather conditions during the summers, causes more people to resort to travelling by bus.
Talking to the The Express Tribune, Northern Areas Transport Corporation (NATCO) Managing Director Zafar Iqbal said that, “The absence of proper hotels for tourists on the KKH is a big issue.”
He said that a lot needs to be done to facilitate passengers, who have to travel for more than 20 hours to reach Gilgit and Skardu from Rawalpindi. He said that NATCO is collaborating with some private parties to set up better hotels along the route in the near future.