Pakistan’s hospitality industry gains momentum

Growing economic activity, improved law and order help boost demand investment

Salman Siddiqui August 21, 2016
Growing economic activity, improved law and order help boost demand investment. PHOTO SOURCE: PAKISTAN SERVICES LIMITED

KARACHI: Pakistan’s hospitality industry is booming at an incredible pace amid growing economic activity particularly in relation to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor in Gwadar along with improved law and order situation across the country.

“The rate of hotel occupancy has surged to 80% {on an average} across the country compared to 35% before the current calendar year started,” said Beach Luxury Hotel Director Business Development Rehan Wahid.

Hospitality industry waits for improvement in conditions

“Hotels in Islamabad and Lahore are fully booked most of the days. However, this is yet to happen in Karachi,” he said.

Wahid said the situation in the country’s north improved at a faster pace compared to the south, particularly Karachi.

“The element of uncertainty has continued to rule the city for some unknown reasons. Although recent rumours about the kidnapping of children in Karachi have not impacted our business yet, the situation like this usually keeps the city and businesses destabilised,” he said.

He strongly believed that the situation in the city of ports would improve in the days to come. “The on-going Rangers-led operation against criminals will deliver the desired results like operation Zarb-e-Azb of the Pakistan Army going on in the northern parts of the country.”

According to Wahid, the developments connected with the CPEC projects were partly helping them meet their business targets. “CPEC projects have convinced a large number of foreigners to resume visiting Pakistan; this will help business grow as well.”

He said the ratio of foreign and local occupants at hotels had drastically changed over the past one year. “The current ratio is 50:50. It was 30:70 last year.”

The corridor projects have led to long-duration hotel room occupancy by foreigners; usually up to two or three months. “The Embassy Hotel remains full with Chinese visitors ever since the CPEC projects were launched in the country.”

Sea Shell Inn General Manager Operations and Marketing Fakhir Shah said business was growing at a rapid pace. “Although we only opened earlier this year, we are attracting business of months in days.”

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Jovago Managing Director Nadine Malik said the number of tourists and visitors through the online booking portal had soared significantly over the past few months.

“We do not have the policy to reveal the number of visitors, but the growth in the industry can be gauged from the fact that we had opened our Pakistan office with just five-six employees in 2014; the number now has increased to almost 50.”

The number of tourists to northern areas like Naran, Kaghan, Swat, Murree and Islamabad increases notably during the summer season and majority of them use hotels for their stay. Besides, businessmen continue to visit areas like Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad and Faisalabad throughout the year.

Expansion and new projects

Gwadar Iqra Associates Chief Executive Mir Mazhar Ali Magsi said development works in Gwadar city, port and economic zones and other CPEC-related projects had created a huge demand for hotels there.

The Gwadar project director has so far given no-objection certificates (NoC) for the construction of at least five five-star hotels. These include a 250-room hotel apartment project of the management of Pearl Continental Hotels and another one of the Bahria Group.

Besides, a number of hotels in the categories of one-to-four stars would be developed in the next two years, he said.

According to government estimates, some 125,000 trucks and long-haul cargo vehicles as well as 25,000 passenger vehicles will run everyday on the roads between Gwadar and Kashgar, China under the CPEC.

“Many of the travellers will be in need of hotels and motels on both sides of the roads network between the two countries,” he said.

Besides, one of the five-star hotels in Karachi had announced in January 2016 that it would build another five-star hotel in the city for which they had acquired the land. Construction of high-grade hotels is also going on these days in Multan and Mirpur.

The writer is a staff correspondent

Published in The Express Tribune, August 22nd,  2016.

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Haji Atiya | 6 years ago | Reply @Anum: That's the thing; new hotels will not necessarily be built because the few existing hotel owners have had a stranglehold over the market for the last umpteen years and have been significantly jacking up room charges each and every year. A fair share of the rooms are actually serviced apartments for an identified captive market.
shafi | 6 years ago | Reply @Rahul., what abt american take over of india, today india is wooing USA to declare it as a Ally.
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