Can Ladakh Embrace Tourism While Protecting Its Fragile Ecosystem?

Ladakh's tourism has boomed in recent decades but faces challenges like waste and environmental damage. Locals are pushing for responsible tourism practices to preserve Ladakh's unique culture and ecosystem

Ladakh is the highest plateau in India Photo: Shutterstock

The year 2024 marks the 50th anniversary of tourism in Ladakh. In 1974, when the region was opened up, it got a total of 527 tourists. In 2022-23, the count reached 5,31,000 and 5,25,374, greater than Ladakh's resident population. The numbers have shot up over the last few decades, with air connectivity and easier road access from Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh. This was aided in no small degree by the film "3 Idiots," featuring the spectacular Pangong Lake, after which tourist numbers shot up from 74,000 to 1,80,000.