By Kamran Hashim, Associate Editor, Biz Today International
KARACHI: Biz Today International’s ‘Leaders Club’ to hosted leadership talk on “Innovation and the Future of Tourism” Powered by Deluxe Holidays on Tuesday, 30th May 2023 at Karachi Marriott Hotel. The object of this leadership talk was highlighting the huge potential of tourism in Pakistan (in-bound tourism) and for Pakistanis (out-bound tourism).
As per standard format, event kicked off with the Nilofer Lalalni took control of the event as moderator. She invited first speaker of the evening Mrs. Sarwat Naseem Shah, Managing Director, Zaamin Builders (Pvt.) Limited and & Nooriabad Gymkhana Club
Mrs. Sarwat Naseem Shah, although a realtor by profession, she spoke about connecting her sector with tourism sector. She said; “Zaamin Town’s innovative community initiative regarding promotion of local tourism via developing a holistic housing scheme on M9 Motorway that will serve as a satellite town for both Karachi & Hyderabad”.
Sarwat Naseem Shah focused on the need to develop local tourism, which can do wonders for local community, can add value national economy and will also attract tourist from all over the world.
She added by saying; “tourism via farm house is very unique and limited concept in Pakistan till now and we are aiming to open-up this sector by offering land for sole purpose of establishing farm-houses, water-parks, resorts etc. You just need to create your farm-houses exotically to the taste of your target audiences and that will definitely attract international tourist”.
She further added by saying; “some other options that can be explored are honey-farming, rabbit-farming, ostrich- farming and camel-farming to name a few. This will help local community and will tourist will also enjoy”.
Mr. Raza Abbas, General Manager, Marriott Hotel Karachi was the next speaker of the evening, he has joined Marriott Karachi a year ago and since then Marriott Hotel has seen a lot of changes, which seems very refreshing to visitors.
Mr. Raza Abbas said; “tourism is my favorite subject and is connected to sector that I serve, which is hospitality. Upon arriving here, I have noticed that karachi’s flare is very different and is also very vibrant”.
GM Marriott said; “leading a team of 500 people is not an easy task and since joining here I have conveyed to my team that innovation should on top of your list. We are more focused on adding value and one of the initiatives that I have taken is to make Marriott Karachi plastic free by August 2023. Our workforce consists of 13% females, which is the highest ratio of female employees in any corporate sector”.
He further said; “we are working on sustainability and pretty recently we gave an overall change to taste that was being offered as we often use to hear that five star hotels don’t have that required taste in their regular cuisines”.
“Tourism sector has a good time ahead, as more airlines are coming back, properties are being revamped, new properties are coming and concerned-authorities are also keen on promoting tourism”, concluded GM Marriott, Raza Abbas.
Mr. Fazal Majeed, Managing Director, Deluxe Holidays was the next speaker. Hailing from travel-planning sector he said; “there was a time when we had more than 500 travel agencies tour operators) just for the sole purpose of facilitating tourism in shape of corporate-tours, family-tours, honeymoon-tours, series-group-tours and so on, but during last couple of decades all of this has come to halt”.
Talking about firm Deluxe Holidays Mr. Fazal Majeed said; “as tour-operators we have launched series group for outbound tours. We feel that group tours are very well planned and they reduce the budget of travellers by more than 40%. For last eight years we are trying our best to make life easier for tourist with our in-bound tourism services and out-bound tourism services”.
Speaking on the role of tour operators he said; “tour operators & travel agencies can play a very positive role in improving passport value of Pakistan. Right now Malaysia was number 1 tourist destination for Pakistani’s and still is number one. There are many reasons why we Pakistanis refer to visit Malaysia and some of them can be infra-structure, beaches, halal-food, very economical fares, hotel economical bookings to name a few. We can also copy Malaysia’s tourism model. Pakistan has vast potential for tourism (inbound tourism), we must work on bringing in new technologies, new innovations, by investing in creating theme-parks, water-parks, beach-resorts, wildlife-resorts”.
He also added; “despite very high inflation, I still am hopeful that budget airlines can do wonders for our tourism sector. Civil Aviation authority needs to collaborate with concerned ministries and departments to attract more and more budget air lines from countries in middle east and south east Asia. I am very hopeful that with the arrival of these budget airlines our inbound tourism will get a tremendous boost.
Chief Guest of the event, His Excellency Mr. Herman Hardynata Bin Ahmad, Consul General of Malaysia in Karachi shared his views as; “Malaysia is coming back to pre-covid levels and international tourism is also picking up fast. Our domestic tourism has been doing well during these hard times and has kept us afloat. I am understand that most of us here must be aware of Malaysia’s National Tourism Policy, which primarily aims to make Malaysia one of the top ten tourist destination by 2030”.
Malaysian envoy added; “local authorities and local communities need to do more for up-gradation of existing infra-structure. We need to have more banks, hospitals, hotels, restaurants, shopping malls etc and ultimately these steps will add more conveniences to tourists. We must push for development of service culture”.
His Excellency added; “we must embrace innovation, which in turn will be the key to sustainable growth in tourism sector. We have initiated smart tourism through digitalization. This is by creating various applications (aaps) for tourist where they can get all their required information relating to hotel-bookings, flight-bookings, restaurants etc”. His Excellency Mr. Herman Hardynata Bin Ahmad, Consul General of Malaysia in Karachi concluded by saying; “another step would be to tourism zones with the help of private sector. Role of public sector should be reduced by engaging private sector. We must push for strong partnerships, strong public private partnership”.