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Himalayas is top of the world

The restoration of a 700-year-old fort in a project that breathed new life into an historic Himalayan village has won the British Airways Tourism for Tomorrow global Award

Desmond Balmer
Sunday October 15, 2000

The Karimabad and Baltit project on the terraced slopes of Hunza, part of the Karakoram range in northern Pakistan, was one of six section winners in the awards which recognise environmental responsibility in the tourism industry. It was chosen as the global winner by a panel, chaired by Professor David Bellamy, which included 17-year-old Leeds sixth-former Lizzie Ashworth who was chosen as the young judge in an Observer competition. Professor Bellamy said that Lizzie made a crucial contribution in the decision by a panel that included Sir Crispin Tickell, convenor of the UK Government Panel on Sus tainable Development, and Ross B. Simmons, director of the Smithsonian environmental research centre.

The 1 million project, developed by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, restored the Baltit Fort as a museum and cultural centre, creating new income and opportunities for the 5,000-strong village. It attracts 20,000 visitors a year, half of them from outside Pakistan. Access is limited to pedestrians and only 25 visitors are allowed at a time. The fort earned 30,000 in fees from visitors but brought indirect revenue of around 110,000 to the community.

The restoration was part of a wider regeneration of the area. Meltwater from a glaciers was captured to allow the cultivation of terraced fields and orchards, an arts and crafts centre created jobs for villagers and a new waste system was introduced.