The Khaplu Palace & Residence (KP&R) of Gilgit-Baltistan region restored by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture received 'Highly Commended' in the 'Best in poverty reduction' category of the Responsible Tourism Awards 2012. This was the only project from Pakistan that won an award at the prestigious ceremony.
The Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards 2012 were announced at an awards ceremony held at the World Travel Market 2012 hosted by renowned BBC Hardtalk host, Stephen Sackur. The Responsible Tourism Awards, founded in 2004, are the most prestigious awards of their kind in the world and are organised by founder responsibletravel.com, with support from media partners Metro, Geographical Magazine (the magazine of the Royal Geographical Society), and World Travel Market, where the Awards are given out. The Responsible Tourism Awards celebrate and inspire change in the tourism industry.
The Awards rest 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 destinations and local people. Since they were founded, the Awards have attracted over 10,000 nominations from members of the public, leading to 201 unique organisations awarded from 51 countries around the world.
Khaplu Palace was restored by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture's local company Aga Khan Cultural Service Pakistan with the generous support of the Royal Norwegian Embassy Islamabad. The Palace has been open since July 2011 in Baltistan as a heritage hotel managed by Tourism Promotion Services offering 21 rooms, of which six are in the Palace itself. Over 70 percent of income is spent locally, allowing for Khaplu Palace to be an anchor-point for development.
The judges wrote that, "The Aga Khan Trust for Culture focuses on the physical, social, cultural and economic revitalisation of communities in the Muslim world fostering community-based cultural heritage development. They have successfully combined conservation, restoration and re-use for tourism; and the rehabilitation of cultural crafts and historical assets." Previously Shigar Fort, also restored by the Aga Khan Cultural Service Pakistan, was awarded the winner in the 'Conservation of Cultural Heritage' category at the Responsible Tourism Awards held in 2008 in London.-PR