We were extremely honored to be invited to speak about the spirit of international openness and responsible mountain tourism at the Piolets D'or Alpinism awards 2016. HASP CEO Hanniah Tariq delivered the speech as part of the opening ceremony for the awards held at Briançon on 13 April 2016. Through the speech we were able to reaffirm HASP's commitment to responsible and inclusive tourism.
A full transcript of the talk follows:
Rajab Shah, the first Pakistani to summit all 5 8000ers in our country spoke about the spirit of international openness with me before his death last year. He felt that one of the key ways to fight extremism in Pakistan and to change the international perspective about us was the understanding that comes from people coming together to explore and travel with each other.
Travelling in search of adventure brings us across different cultures, traditions and people.
We come to understand and know them as they do us. The peace that we all seek when we venture into the wilderness would not be so foreign if more people came to understand better their neighbors in this global village,. If they were to know them beyond the perceptions created by news and media, as they truly are.
After 9/11, travel around the world in general and to certain regions particularly diminished as tourists thought twice about safety. Travel by the general population to remote and pristine areas of the world now thought to be dangerously close to conflict all but ended.
And yet, there were those who continued to come. Perhaps because they saw new ground to be covered, more routes to try, or they sought the true adventure found only in areas rarely touched by human feet.
In general if you look through the big lists of The Piolets D’Or you will find many climbs were in Asia. In the particular the Karakorum range in Pakistan probably has the largest amount of unexplored high altitude peaks.
The trekking and expedition economy in some of these countries depends largely on the few international travelers who choose to climb in their mountains.
As mountaineering and climbing grows in popularity, climbers in Europe and North America find that there are more teams in the mountains, and there are less roads less travelled. But there are passes and peaks that remain untouched, and many of them are in regions where the conventional tourist would hesitate to travel to.
And yet the places in Pakistan, Iran, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and China where our colleagues here have climbed at are home to the most hospitable, warm, friendly and peaceful people.
It is only through understanding each other through mutual experiences that we can open up new routes, both in the mountains and in our societies. It is my sincere hope that we can continue to access more of the beautiful parts of the world and to meet and learn from more of its people