The hospitality industry is diverse and includes everything from hotels and other accommodation types to restaurants, travel agents and tour operators. In Pakistan, it is becoming extremely competitive, and it is important for the businesses operating within it to keep up with the latest trends, in order to avoid being left behind. At the very same time, there are certain things on the part of the government which are essential to the sustained development of his industry in Pakistan. So, at the very beginning of the decade 2020-30, it gets important to realise the needs and expectations of the hospitality and tourism industry from the authorities at the helm of affairs. Though the current government is paying attention to promote the hospitality & tourism sector but the following expectations are being expressed to enhance the sustainability of the ongoing projects and plans. Public-private partnership Various hill stations, resorts, motels and many other buildings of national importance are being governed and run by the government. Their structure and functionality both are usually questioned by the people visiting them. The state of the affairs can be improved in them if private sector is involved in this area. Professionals from interior decoration to hotel & restaurant management, transportation, tourism and aviation are doing wonders in their respective fields. So, it is the need of the hour to introduce public private partnerships in the areas of hospitality and tourism and the sectors related to them so that the quality of the things may not be hurt. Use of technology Hospitality & tourism are the sectors which are all about public interest and involvement. Keeping this thing in mind that we are living in the 21st century, the use of technology should be made easy and accessible in such populated sectors. Digitised dealings and mobile facilities can help reduce the issues of space and time. Budget-friendly projects Proper homework must be done before launching a project because the ventures running in loss become a burden on the taxpayers. Either its orange train or Kartarpur corridor, expected footfall, projected revenue and other estimations must be kept in mind to avoid any mishap. Friendly visa regime Pakistan has already updated its visa policy which allows visitors from 48 countries including Brazil, Germany, Iran, Malaysia, Russia, Turkey, China, Sri Lanka, Australia, and Denmark to receive a visa on arrival. It has also relaxed its visa facilities for diplomats, and government passport holders of 31 countries can also benefit from the new visa policy. Visa-on-arrival policy for five countries; Turkey, China, Malaysia, the UK, and the UAE has also been introduced while Pakistan has also announced to introduce online visa facility to the residents of over 175 countries. In the very same way, it is hoped that Pakistan will bring more innovations to its visa regime in the coming year as well to enhance its availability to the world. Facilitated transportation facilities As everything about hospitality and tourism is expanding in Pakistan, transportation is a factor that is still being ignored. Foreign and local tourists both face difficulties while moving across the country especially in northern areas as no proper arrangements for transportation have been done so far. The government should introduce a proper transport system for the tourists to make their journeys easier and facilitated. Security situation With the improvement in the security situation around the country, Pakistan has seen a massive increase in tourism in cultural sites across the country. Tourist traffic has been reported to have increased by over 317 percent. A single province, Punjab, is responsible for 95 percent of the increase in tourism. Recently, Pakistan has been named as the top holiday destination for travelers for the year 2020 by the United States-based luxury and lifestyle publication Conde Nast Traveler. A large number of tourists from across the globe is being expected after this announcement and for that the security situation must be in accordance to the international lines.
At a time of great confrontation and mistrust in the subcontinent, Pakistan has taken a major step towards peace by opening the Kartarpur Corridor in Punjab’s Narowal district. With this step, where Pakistan has shown its intentions to facilitate Sikh visitors, at the same time, a more relaxed bilateral visa formula can help promote religious tourism in the country as the corridor gives access to the Sikh devotees from across the border to visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib. It is quite welcoming that through the corridor, 5,000 visitors will be able to cross over from India daily to visit the shrine in Pakistan without a visa. Indeed, religious tourism has great potential to promote people-to-people contacts in Pakistan. It is home to other significant Sikh shrines — in Hasan Abdal, Lahore etc — and a similar formula can perhaps be adopted to let foreign visitors pay respects at these religious places through a more relaxed visa regime. Similarly, there are ancient Hindu temples in Sindh’s Thar region, the Hinglaj mandir in Balochistan, as well as Katas Raj in Punjab, which can attract visitors from India and elsewhere. The government of Pakistan is keen to brand the country as a place where historically, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Muslims and Christians lived together not so long ago. The recent visit of Arayawangso, the distinguished Buddhist monk from Thailand, who rang the ‘Bell of Peace’ at Peshawar Museum and prayed after a gap of over 15 centuries at the Grand Stupa of Taxila, helped realize that image. For religious tourism to flourish, an overarching national level tourism promotion strategy is imperative. Such a strategy goes well beyond a basic infrastructure uplift to ensure that the cultural, lingual, social and dietary needs of the visitors are also taken care of. Another key lesson is that mobilizing domestic tourism paves the way for a higher global tourist foot-fall. Pakistan can make significant progress to ease the concerns of domestic religious tourists. There is no doubt that people around the world will want to visit the country if a decent tourism ecosystem can be ensured. In the current scenario, the promotion of religious tourism and people-to-people contacts should be pursued to reduce hostilities between Islamabad and New Delhi. However, the key irritants in the relationship — particularly the Kashmir issue — must not be lost sight of. Prime Minister Imran Khan has already said while addressing at the opening of Kartarpur corridor that a just solution to the Kashmir question can help bring peace to the subcontinent. Pakistan has extended a hand of friendship by facilitating Indian Sikhs in their demand to easily access Kartarpur; India must do the same and make arrangements for Pakistanis to visit Muslim sites in their country without hassle. Constructive dialogue on Kashmir, together with confidence-building measures, can help break the deadlock in the subcontinent. Though the grand opening of the cross-border project has introduced the positive and soft image of Pakistan to the world, at the same time, there are a few questions which need to be answered by the ones who are at the helm of affairs. Is there enough planning done before constructing such a huge setup? Is the corridor really going to generate desired revenue in the time to come? Is there any homework done to pay the salaries of the staff working at the shrine? Is there anybody working on the affordability y of the Kartarpur shrine in comparison with other Sikh temples? It is hoped that some very basic concerns mentioned above must be taken care of so that the government may reach its goals in its pursuit towards religious tourism in Pakistan. Courtesy: Dawn, Arab News
Each year on October 20th we celebrate International Chefs Day. Since its creation by esteemed chef Dr. Bill Gallagher in 2004, COTHM has committed to using International Chefs Day to celebrate this noble profession, always remembering that it is its duty to pass on its knowledge and culinary skills to the next generation of chefs with a sense of pride and commitment to the future. This year, COTHM partnered with Chefs Association of Pakistan (CAP) to teach the aspirants in this profession about the importance of healthy eating by hosting a fun-filled programme at Punjab Institute of Language and Culture (PILAC), Qaddafi Stadium, Lahore. The theme of this year’s campaign was “How Healthy Food Works” and it itself narrates that how food affects our bodies internally. It also tells that why healthy food is good for growing up. International Chefs Day is an opportunity to train the kids about healthy eating by letting them be creative with food. With the chef’s input, education and help, the students become able to create recipes out of healthy foods while knowing the benefits of healthy food. International Chefs Day is celebrated across the globe in order to honor this profession and those who are associated to it. COTHM, keeping the tradition alive, this year also organised a series of programmes with the collaboration of Chefs Association of Pakistan (CAP) and Tourism Development Corporation Punjab (TDCP) to celebrate International Chefs Day. Wishing every working chef out there a very Happy International Chefs Day, the day was celebrated in association with international fraternity of chefs who shared their views on healthy food and healthy eating. It is for the first time that Chefs Association of Pakistan (CAP) and COTHM Pakistan & Dubai collaborated with Tourism Development Corporation of Punjab (TDCP) in celebrating International Chefs Day. On the occasion, the welcome address was given by Chefs Association of Pakistan (CAP) Senior Vice President Corporate Waqar Ilyas Khan who praised the services of chefs. Guest speakers said “Pakistani chefs stand among the list of world’s best chefs and are well-equipped with modern techniques of culinary arts. They also praised the services of chefs in the success of Pakistani hospitality industry. Chief guest, Archaeology, Sports & Tourism Youth Affairs Secretary Nadeem Mehboob, said “We are proud of Pakistani chefs who have achieved remarkable success for their country. Pakistan has enormous talent but it needs to nurture the talent and showcase it in front of the world.” CAP Chief Petron Zubair Khan, CAP Executive Member Tariq Ameen, CAP Executive Member Muhammad Yamin and TDCP MD Tanveer Jabbar were among the guests of honor. In a befitting awards ceremony, awards were presented to the chefs and to the junior chefs who participated in pre-celebrations of Chefs Day campaign “How Healthy Food Works”. Professional Services Awards were conferred to senior chefs for the acknowledgment of their services. An honorary walk along with the chefs and winners of Junior Chefs Competition was also held with balloon releasing ceremony at the end of the event. Junior Chefs Competition Under the umbrella of International Chefs Day, continuing its unique initiative, COTHM focused on the school children from 8 to 13 years of age by organizing interesting culinary competitions under the theme of "How Healthy Food Works" which was given by World Association of Chefs Societies (WACS). During the weeklong event, competitions were held among the students from School of International Studies in Science and Arts (SISSA), LGS, SOS village, NGS, Lahore Learning School, the trust School, Salamat School System, PAF etc.
Tourism is one of those fastest growing fields which are bringing innovations to the world with every
new day. In Pakistan, this field is making its mark in almost all those sectors where hospitality is involved
somehow. With the emerging impact of the fields of tourism and hospitality in Pakistan, it has become
indispensible to aware people of the health and food safety standards in a proper way. To do the
needful, College of Tourism and Hospitality Management (COTHM) Pakistan and Dubai invited Highfield
International, UK Chairman Richard Sprenger to promote health and food safety here in Pakistan. During
his one-week visit, Richard Sprenger visited various educational organisations and training institutes to
get the component of health and food safety embedded in all the circles concerning food and health. He
also had meet-ups with the people from food and HORECA sectors and stressed the importance of
health and food safety standards in Pakistan. The details of Richard Sprenger’s one-week visit to
Pakistan are documented ahead.
Highfield International, UK (Introduction) Richard Sprenger (Introduction)
Highfield International, UK Chairman Richard Sprenger attended ‘All Pakistan Food Science Conference’ organised by ‘Pakistan Society of Food Scientists and Technologists’ at the Agricultural University, Faisalabad. Richard Sprenger addressed about improving the standards of food safety in Pakistan and asked the participants to be a part of this noble cause. Rectors and vice chancellors from various universities who were also there in the conference appreciated the cause and wished to work with the Highfield International, UK. Talking about China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Richard Sprenger said that China and Pakistan besides various other projects of their interest should also work on improving food safety standards. Other than getting pictured at COTHM’s stall at food expo, Richard Sprenger also paid a short visit to COTHM Faisalabad.
Highfield International, UK Chairman Richard Sprenger visited the famous University of Health Sciences (UHS) where he addressed doctors, nutritionists, members of teaching faculty and students. Richard Sprenger talked about the significance of health and food safety qualifications and compliance standards in academics and healthcare operations. He also explained the qualifications being offered at Highfield International, UK which are: 1- Food Safety 2- Infection Prevention 3- First Aid. UHS Vice Chancellor Dr Javaid Akram admired these qualifications and desired to have them implemented in the hospitals of Pakistan. A large number of students who attended the meet-up expressed its urge to opt ‘Health and Food Safety’ as a subject in collaboration with Highfield International, UK. He also met with general managers, chefs, production managers, food handlers and other people from HoReCa sector and announced ‘Highfield Manager Incharge Programme’ (HMIC) exclusively designed for the professionals working here in Pakistan.
Highfield International, UK Chairman Richard Sprenger visited Bahad din Zakriya University (BZU), Multan where he addressed the students, teachers and members of the faculty from Muhammad Nawaz Sharif University of Agriculture, Multan. While talking to the audience, he spoke about the importance of health and food safety qualifications and invited the university administration to join hands for future ventures and collaborations. He also attended a session with HoReCa sector and students of culinary arts. Here, he talked about the importance of health and food safety qualifications in the context of emerging growth of the food industry and HoReCa sector.
First of all, Highfield International, UK Chairman Richard Sprenger attended a meeting with Punjab Skills Development Foundation (PSDF) CEO Jawad Khan where he linked up Highfield qualifications with the courses being offered at PSDF. He was of the view that these qualifications would enhance the understanding of the students towards their subjects and open up new avenues in the job market. Then he had a meeting with the stakeholders from academia and regulatory bodies and reiterated the significance of health and food safety qualifications and compliance standards. Thirdly, he had a meet-up with food technologists from production and quality control departments followed by a dinner with HoReCa professionals. He explained why food technologists should know about the health and food safety standards. He also discussed the significance of the health and food safety qualifications and compliance standards in the food industry.
Highfield International, UK Chairman Richard Sprenger had a meet-up with teachers and students at Kinnaird College for Women University and talked about the importance of health and food safety qualifications in the context of emerging growth of the food industry and HoReCa sector. There he trained the trainers from hospitality industry regarding ‘Highfield Manager Incharge Programme ’ and threw light on the traits of a Highfield manager incharge. He explained the prospects of the programme and talked about its importance across the tourism and hospitality fields. After paying a short visit to COTHM Johar Town, he attended the ‘International Poultry Science Conference’ as a guest of honour. CEOs at various poultry firms were there among the audience. Richard Sprenger said that poultry had become a vast industry and it direly needs to follow food safety standards. He further highlighted the importance of food safety as an important element to increase the exports of the poultry items. A dinner was organised in the honour of Highfield International, UK Chairman Richard Sprenger at Spice Bazar where dignitaries from different business groups and vice chancellors from various universities were also present. Last but not the least, Richard Sprenger visited the University of Lahore (UoL) where UoL Chairman Awais Rauf consented to collaborate with Highfield International, UK to launch ‘Food Safety Programme’ for UoL’s Allied and Health Sciences Department.
Tourism has grown faster than the global economy for the eighth consecutive year.
Today, more than a billion people travel internationally, with around half these
journeys destined for developing countries. Pakistan is uniquely placed to take
advantage of this trend.
Travellers can experience the historical heritage of one of the oldest civilisations in the world, worship at the rich collection of Sufi shrines, Hindu temples, Sikh gurdawaras and Buddhist monasteries, scale some of the highest mountains in the world, or simply experience natural beauty ranging from blossoming trees against a backdrop of snow-clad peaks in Gilgit-Baltistan to pristine beaches in Gwadar. However, despite this wealth of tourist attractions, Pakistan’s tourism sector trails far behind that of India, Turkey, Sri Lanka and the region in general. The direct contribution of the travel and tourism sector to Pakistan’s gross domestic product is just 2.8 per cent compared to the regional average of 3.5pc. In terms of receipts from foreign tourists across South Asia ($33.82 billion in 2016), Pakistan scrapes a share of less than 1pc of this important source of foreign exchange compared to India's share of 69pc, Sri Lanka’s 10pc and Maldives’ 7pc. Moreover, in sharp contrast to the dramatic improvements in the share of travel and tourism to India’s economy, in Pakistan, this share has remained fairly stagnant.
What is the economic potential for tourism in Pakistan? What is holding us back from reaching the potential and what can be done about it?
Boosting the economy What if Pakistan’s international tourism sector contributed to the economy at similar rates as the rest of South Asia? The gains to GDP would be $1.5 billion. What if Pakistan surpasses South Asia and international tourism contributed at world average rates? The gains to GDP would be $3.5 billion — equivalent to the value of Pakistan’s largest current export item, cotton. Simple back-of-the-envelope calculations show a substantial economic impact of existing domestic tourism as well. For instance, looking at just domestic tourism to heritage and religious sites in Punjab, the Tourism Development Corporation of Pakistan (TDCP) identifies 480 such sites across the province. Of these, 106 are of historical importance, 120 religious and a further 26 of both religious and historical importance. Assuming a modest average spend of Rs200 per trip per person and using TDCP data on the number of visits to each site, revenue generation through these domestic visits is currently estimated at Rs54 billion per year — two-thirds of what international tourists spend in Pakistan each year. With the right policies in place, Punjab alone can contribute a three- to four-fold increase in the revenue generated by domestic tourism. Pakistan is an especially important site for both Sikh and Buddhist tourists. At one point, Punjab was the centre of the only Sikh empire in history. Nankana Sahib, the birthplace of Baba Guru Nanak, is one of the holiest sites for Sikhs, with the potential to attract as many pilgrims as the Golden Temple in Amritsar. Yet, barely 6,000 Indian Sikhs visit Pakistan, in contrast to over 50 million that visit the Golden Temple — just 120 kilometres away from Nankana Sahab — each year (this includes multiple visits from the same visitors). The number of pilgrims coming to Pakistan each year and where they stay is controlled and managed for political and security reasons by the state, albeit with fewer restrictions on diaspora Sikhs as compared to Indian Sikhs.
According to survey data, a whopping 83pc of the eight million diaspora Sikhs living outside India have shown interest in visiting Pakistan. In addition, 79pc of the 20 million Indian Sikhs expressed an interest in visiting Pakistan. In sharp contrast, just 10pc had actually come to the country. Improvements in visa restrictions, security and infrastructure can lead to an increase in tourist numbers and a change in the profile of existing Sikh tourists, which is currently heavily biased towards low-end visitors (those who won’t be spending too much).
For instance, allowing one-day visas for day trips to Nankana Sahib, a mere two- hour drive from Wagah, can boost visits from Indian pilgrims. Conservative estimates of the economic impact of boosting Sikh tourism, that keep the current expenditure profiles and mix of pilgrims as given and assume that a small fraction of the Sikhs that expressed an interest in visiting Pakistan do actually visit, show an approximately 85-fold increase in Sikh tourists’ expenditure on goods and services in Pakistan. The current spend of Rs208 million can reach almost Rs18 billion.
This is assuming 44,000 annual visitors (a mix of diaspora and national Sikhs, with some high-spending and others low-spending tourists) with most staying for two weeks, some single-day visits and spending between Rs4,000 to Rs20,000 per day per person.
The gains to the economy, however, are not restricted to these direct expenditures on hotels and transport. They create ripple effects through the economy via indirect and induced expenditures.
Hotels purchase more goods and services from their suppliers and expand their facilities (indirect expenditures). When the region becomes more active as a tourist hub, increased employment and economic activity spillover to higher spending on all goods and services in the area (induced effects). The World Travel and Tourism Council estimates that every rupee of direct expenditure is expected to lead to an additional spend of Rs1.46. Every direct job in the travel and tourism sector also implies an additional 1.55 jobs in related sectors. Incorporating these multiplier effects, the total contribution of Sikh tourists
is projected to reach approximately Rs44 billion every year, generating over 82,000 jobs.
Similarly, Buddhist tourism has an estimated market of 500 million Buddhists across the world. Pakistan’s Gandhara region comprising Mardan, Taxila and Swat holds a special place for them. Korean Buddhists in particular trace their religious origin to the area that is now Pakistan, where Korean monk Hyecho travelled 1,300 years ago.
Just recently, a 48-feet-long Buddha was also unearthed in Haripur, making it the world’s oldest sleeping Buddha statue. Takht-i-Bahi in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the sites in northern Punjab alone have the potential to attract a major proportion of the 50 million Mahayana Buddhists in Korea, China and Japan. A 2016 Gallup survey of the Buddhist population across a selected pool of countries identified 58 million “interested visitors” of which 5pc (2.9 million) were “likely to visit” Pakistan. Poor security situation, lack of marketing and tourist facilities and the absence of a functional Buddha stupa are currently preventing this potential from being realised. Facilitating these tourists and reaching just 1pc realisation for Pakistan would mean 29,000 visitors a year, with a revenue inflow of $62.9 million in the near term. Accounting for the direct and indirect effects, Buddhist tourism can contribute over Rs16 billion to GDP and provide employment to 30,772 people. What is holding us back?
Where can we begin in order to realise this potential? The most important impediment identified in surveys in the past has been Pakistan’s security situation. Significant improvements in security mean that the sector is now poised to pick up. In recognition of this, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf-led government has shown a keen interest in reviving this sector. They have established a national task force on tourism, followed by approval of a National Tourism Coordination Board. They have also announced a new visa policy, plan to provide online visa facility for 175 nations and have relaxed the system of No Objection Certificate for certain regions.
Tourism remains a key area of cooperation under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, realising the enormous potential of Chinese tourists and impact on international tourism of overall improvements in infrastructure. There are, however, some additional factors that remain unaddressed. A critical one is an appropriate institutional and regulatory structure that allows for conservation and regulation, provision of facilities, effective management and data-driven planning to understand and attract tourists in a manner that is environmentally sustainable.
Existing institutional and regulatory arrangements for the tourism sector remain weak, complex and in need of serious reform. Multiple agencies and departments are involved in the sector, without any specialised experience in managing heritage and religious sites and without conformity in practicing international or UNESCO standards. Special management structures like the Walled City Authority do exist, yet there is a need for a consistent approach that applies to all sites of significance. Federal-provincial coordination poses further challenges. Federal jurisdiction over some heritage sites is still maintained by the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETBP) even though it has no legal authority post-18th Amendment. The impact of these issues is exemplified in the experience of Katas Raj, a complex of seven ancient Hindu temples. The ETBP exercises complete authority over the development and restoration of Katas Raj without apparent oversight of the provincial archaeology department or any in-house expertise in conservation and restoration.
This institutional flaw has led to renovations using plaster and paint, which have permanently destroyed any remaining vestiges of antiquity. The floors and steps throughout the complex have been re-laid using white marble that looks completely anachronistic in that environment. Most importantly, nearby cement factories have contaminated and dried up the centuries-old pool of water considered holy by Hindus.
While suo moto action was taken after media reports last year, the experience highlights the gaps in the regulatory environment that have allowed substantial and potentially irreversible damage to historical sites. Other issues that arise from poor institutional arrangements include poor tourism infrastructure, low involvement of the private sector, inadequate marketing and low enforcement of quality standards. The Punjab Tourism for Economic Growth report develops five strategic thrust areas to address these issues and unlock tourism’s potential: tourism infrastructure, safety and security, branding, developing talent for tourism services and policies for sustainable tourism that involve and benefit local communities, as well as regulation that preserves heritage sites. With these arrangements in place, Pakistan can look forward to revamping its tourism industry to take its rightful place in the country's development.
Pakistan has been enlisted in the top ten coolest places of 2019 by Forbes, isn’t it
amazing. Before the world pours in our beautiful homeland, you must visit some
cool place this summer to beat the heat of the season. Pakistan, the country we live
in is one of those nations that has almost every miracle in its lap. Beginning from
the nippy climate of Khaplu to the mellow precipitation of Swat, the solidified
surges of Skardu to the thundering and twirling cascades of Neelum, then the hot
desert to the chilly deserts of Shigar where mists are balancing brimming with
bliss. What not, the rich green knolls of Shogran and Siri Paye to the steep inclines
of Nanga Parbat. Every place is a marvel in itself. So, it’s a high time to design
your expedition in Pakistan to make your summer vacation progressively powerful.
"Victory belongs to the most persevering" We are very thrilled to share that our Culinary team comprising of chefs from COTHM Pakistan & Dubai participated in Uzbekistan culinary competitions held at Tashkent on 6th-8th November. By the grace of Almighty the team has enlightened the name of Pakistan by winning 21 medals under the leadership of one of top-drawer chefs of Pakistan, Chef Raees. We profoundly congratulate all the winners for this commendable achievementMore News
Tell us something about yourself. First of all, thank you COTHM for giving me this opportunity to introduce myself. Hailing from a working-class family, I am Muhammad Tanveer Jabbar, Master’s in Economics and belong to Punjab Management Services. Served in a number of departments with government of Punjab, presently, I am in grade 20, serving as Managing Director Tourism Development Corporation of Punjab (TDCP). Tourism is a passion for me and I love to work somewhere I can make a difference. In our life, we cannot always do great things, but, as Mother Teresa said, we can always do small things with great love. At the end it is not only about making a living, it is about making a difference. I am a person who is positive about every aspect of life.More Interviews