Guidelines to improve Tourism framework in Pakistan!

Pakistan has performed exceptionally well in the tourism sector in 2019 winning praises all over the world yet to maintain the position on that pedestal, it will have to outperform the faults and mismanagements in its midst.

tourism

Opinion |

In my last article, the key successes of the tourism industry in 2019 were highlighted. The year 2019 made great progress in developing the national tourism body, restructuring of existing PTDC and several initiatives implemented through conclusive workshops and dialogues to promote Pakistan as a destination. It is due to the efforts done in the last year, Pakistan was recognized as the top destination in the Conde Nest travelers list for 2020.

The question arises that what needs to be done in 2020 to further these efforts with consistency to achieve the sustainable model for this key industry. There is already a great amount of work being done in gathering the expertise and ideas from all stakeholders in the tourism community and now it is to implement these ideas into actions to continue to grow a sustainable business segment of the economy.

The formation of FIEDMC to create industrial zones and the partnership between Hashoo Hotels and NLC are great examples of collaboration to develop infrastructure

With the vision of sustainability, the first important milestone is to have a framework of guidelines, checks & balances and procedures that will provide structure for businesses comprising the industry.

The NTCB (National Tourism Coordination Board) has empowered the provinces to manage their own assets and to devise a strategy to promote tourism. The Pakistan tourism endowment fund (PTDEF) of Rs. 1 billion was seeded to promote unexplored destinations across Pakistan. However, with the promotion of destinations, we need to ensure that we elevate the level of services and activities offered in each destination to create customer and investor confidence.

With development, the phenomenon of PPP emerges. The PPP (Public-Private Partnerships) in the hospitality industry is taking ownership of responsibilities between the public and private sectors to build infrastructure and capacity building of this sector. It is the state’s responsibility to develop and impose policies, guidelines, and procedures in the form of a framework that will help the private sector to gain confidence for long term investment in this industry.

Read more: NLC and Hashoo Group partner up to build a resort in Gilgit Baltistan

We have seen tremendous examples of PPP partnerships in many other areas in Pakistan. The formation of FIEDMC to create industrial zones and the partnership between Hashoo Hotels and NLC are great examples of collaboration to develop infrastructure.

Department of Tourist Services was created in 1976 under the Federal Ministry of Tourism. The Regional office of DTS was established in 1988 and was under Federal Government until 2011. After the devolution process with the 18th amendment, this department came under the administrative control of provinces. With the successes achieved by NTCB in 2019, it is important that future steps are taken to build a sustainable model for the growth of the industry.

The standards on tour operators, travel guides, mountain climbing, water rafting, paragliding, etc are all those activities that should be administered through a set of firm implemented standards

To build a sustainable growth model, it is imperative to revise the DTS framework for quality standards. Currently, DTS is following the Hotel & Tourism rules of 1977 based on Pakistan’s Hotel and Tourism Act of 1976. One of the key aspects of these rules is the classification of hotels in terms of star ratings. Although the rules are somehow defined, the implementation of these rules is not visible per requirements.

If Pakistan wants to elevate the level of hotel accommodations, there is dire need to classify these hotels per their type of operation and services offered. The other important step is to engage a body or hotel experts who can evaluate each operation to advise DTS for granting licenses and star ratings. These evaluations through inspections by experts will help all stakeholders to create and follow a transparent framework to implement standards and minimum criteria.

These standards will help NTCB and DTS to gather statistics of registered approved businesses, hotel operators will benefit with clear guidelines and opportunities to develop local and international business and most importantly these standards will help build consumer confidence specially when targeting international travelers.

Read more: Tourism & Nature: World dazzled by Pakistan’s beauty in 2019

Quality in the hospitality industry requires consistent delivery of services based on expected standards. The delivery of quality service is essential for success in the hotel industry globally. It is more important in markets like Pakistan, where a country is trying to develop and promote tourism locally and internationally at trade shows and conventions. It is not only to attract international tourists but also to create awareness of competitive quality for the domestic tourists who willingly pay higher hotel rates and not get a return on their money spent.

The studies globally reveal that the most important factor for a hotel’s success relies on guest satisfaction through service delivery as it helps in the retention of guests and advertising for future business. While hotel owners aim for excellence and profitability, they should focus first on quality service delivery to retain guests by exceeding their expectations. The service delivery will come from a skilled workforce, hence the capacity building, training will create an empowered service-oriented worker that can help elevate the standards of any hotel or lodging facility.

Other than hotels, there is also an urgent need to put standards and criteria on every vertical of tourism activity to ensure a secure and trusted service. The standards on tour operators, travel guides, mountain climbing, water rafting, paragliding, etc are all those activities that should be administered through a set of firm implemented standards.

Read more: Human Capital – Real Asset of Pakistan’s Hospitality Industry

To achieve and elevate these standards of hospitality services, the NTCB should make a mandated standards accreditation program through an expert body for hotel and tourism stakeholders to assist and advise DTS with the implementation of these rules. Such a program will help Pakistan’s overall perception as a destination and attract more tourists and investors.

Hadi Pirzada, a hospitality management consultant, has worked across Switzerland, Canada & Dubai. A graduate of Cesar Ritz Hotel School, Luzern, Switzerland and Brock Univ. Canada, he has worked in Global Sales & Marketing Operations with Ritz Carlton, Four Seasons, Marriott International, Starwood & Intercontinental Hotels and traveled extensively to tourist destinations as part of his responsibilities. Email:hadipirzada@gmail.com & Twitter: @hadipirzada. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.

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