Trio’s Bid To Put Kashmir Back On Trek1 November 2011
Srinagar: A trio of foreigners has taken it upon themselves to revive trekking in Jammu and Kashmir. The three mountaineers trekked through the inhospitable terrains to chart out routes for the venture - The Great Himalayan Trail expedition. They hope to lure many international adventure tourists to the valley to experience the majesty of the challenging Himalayas. Led by the ace mountaineer Robin Boustead of Australian Himalayan Foundation, the expedition includes two women Tony Wilson, an English businesswoman and Helan Clements, a South African doctor specialising in the mountain medicine. “There are great mountains in Kashmir and there are some peaks which no one could identify because no one has been there in last 20 years. We even named one such unexplored peak through our route. Our basic aim is to promote tourism in these remote areas”, said Boustead. Foreign adventure lovers had kept away from the valley after the unfortunate abduction of six tourists in 1995. Several western countries issued travel advisories to its citizens after the incident. They were kidnapped by the militant group Harkat-ul-Mujhadeen and one man Hans Christian Ostro from Norway was beheaded. A man managed to escape but the whereabouts of the others are still not known. It was only this year that Germany revised. “We were overwhelmed by the hospitality showered by the local people on us. We felt safe though we were women trekking on the mountains in Kashmir”, said Helan Clements, who practices medicine in South Africa and runs a clinic in Nepal. The expedition comes at a time when tourism industry is buz- zing again in Jammu and Kashmir. More than a 1.1 million tourists have visited Kashmir, which is a record in the last 20 years. This excludes 6.35 lakh Amarnath yatris who have visited the valley in summer. “Kashmir is the place for the adventure enthusiasts. We want to revive adventure tourism including mountain trekking. And the mountaineering expedition by international experts will auger well for our sector. And if this sector opens our tourism arrivals can increase by 5 to 10% and it has a potential to swell considerably”, said GM Dag, chairman J&K Tourism Alliance, an apex body of the people associated with tourism industry.