LAHORE: The Hashoo Group is all set to expand its business in Pakistan as it plans to open another three five-star hotels, this time in Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B), said the group’s hospitality division chief operating officer.
The group has already announced that it will begin work on four new five-star hotels by next year in Mirpur, Multan, Hayatabad and Malam Jabba under its Pearl Continental (PC) brand.
A significantly improved security situation in the country has helped boost annual tourist arrivals in Pakistan by 300% with 1.75 million tourists in 2017.
There has been a significant increase in the annual tourism rate and business travel in Pakistan. Domestic travellers have increased 30%, according to the Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation.
New hotels will be constructed in Skardu, Hunza and one other city of G-B. Currently, the Hashoo Group is operating seven five-star hotels under the PC brand and two under the Marriot brand.
“Improved security situation and better road connectivity in northern areas has given us an opportunity to expand,” Hashoo Group COO Hasseb A Gardezi told The Express Tribune.
Improved inter-city travel, especially in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, and people’s interest in exploring new tourist spots encouraged the group to expand at a much faster pace so that it could capitalise on the opportunity, Gardezi added.
Apart from adding new properties to its network, the group has also opened itself as managing partner for the investors who have finances to build five-star hotels but do not have expertise in hospitality business.
“We are willing to manage portfolios of such investors; we have successfully implemented this model at our Hotel-One brand,” the COO said. He said one of their upcoming five-star hotel projects – PC Malam Jabba – was based on that model. “The building of Malam Jabba hotel is being constructed by the Samsons Group and we will be managing partners of the property,” Gardezi said.
“We are also looking for new partnerships, no matter whether they are from the private or public sector.”
For Gardezi, these upcoming projects will not be the end of the group’s efforts to support Pakistan’s hospitality and tourism industry. The group will continue to expand to other areas where tourist activities are gaining momentum. However, it is looking for government’s support.
“There is ample land available with the government at different tourist spots, which it cannot develop itself. We are looking for public-private partnerships through open competition, so that we can bid and build a hotel there.”
“There are a lot of government guest houses and rest houses, which are not being run efficiently; we are ready to come forward with proposals to make such places profitable for the government. We are also willing to discuss with the government utilisation of historic buildings for commercial purposes.”
Gardezi urged the government to bring down the duty on pre-fabricated material to zero. “We want to build pre-fabricated hotels in future since they take much lesser time than the conventional process; if the government gives a relief on such structures, then it will be much easier for us to construct three to four-star hotels in one year.”
According to Gardezi, constructing a five-star hotel can cost between Rs3 billion and Rs4 billion excluding land. The group has already raised Rs7 billion through bond floats to meet expenses for ongoing projects. He said for upcoming projects the group would manage finances. “We have a revenue stream from every-day operations.”
Published in The Express Tribune, September 11th, 2018.