Friday, November 16, 2012

Khaplu Palace & Residence Wins Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Award 2012

Pakistan has won international tourism award "The Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Award 2012" under the category “best in poverty reduction” announced at this year’s World Travel Market.

“This was the only project from Pakistan that won an award and this is certainly good news for us,” said Col (Retd) Salman Beg, the chief executive officer of Aga Khan Cultural Service Pakistan (AKCSP) — the NGO that restored the historic building. “The awards rested on a simple principle: that all types of tourism, from niche to mainstream, can and should be organised in a way that preserves, respects and benefits the local people,” he added.

Built in the 1840s, the palace and residence of the then raja of Khaplu was on the verge of a collapse when the NGO began its restoration in 2001. “It was in a real bad shape when we started the renovations,” Beg said of the palace located to the north of Khaplu Town, about 400 kilometres from Gilgit.

AKCSP won the first international award after it restored the historic Baltit Fort in 1996. Since then, the NGO has won 16 awards which include 11 consecutive UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards for Culture Heritage Conservation, two Pacific Asia Travellers Association Awards, two Virgin Responsible Tourism Awards and two British Airways Tourism for Tomorrow Awards.

Since restoration of the palace, it constantly rated as the best place to be by the international tourists and has created jobs for 400 local households in renovation and continue to employ 35 individual households.

Khaplu Palace & Residence (Manage by Serena Hotel Group) offers guests the privilege of experiencing a unique collection of historical buildings dating back to the 1840s. Undoubtedly the finest surviving example of a Royal Residence in Baltistan.

It is located just 2 ½ hours drive from Skardu airport and Shigar and provides the perfect spring board for all types of travelers, adventurers and researchers to explore the regions rich cultural heritage and Baltistani Royalty! For more information: www.serenagilgitbaltistan.com

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