Apr 16 - 22, 2007

Muhammad Shaukat Ali is the Director of PITHM since 07th December 2004.

Senior most among the officers of this Institute, Mr. Shaukat Ali joined PITHM in 1975 and had been in charge of its Bakery Section.

He had joined after resigning from Pakistan Services Limited in whose Inter-Continental Hotel Karachi and Rawalpindi he worked in various Sections from 1969 to 1975. These included the Front Office, Accounts, F&B. Cost Control, F&B Kitchen and Bakery Sections. He also handled the hotel's Flight Food Services for Pakistan International Airlines.

A product of the University of Karachi, he graduated with Political Science in 1973 and did his Masters in the same subject after obtaining LLB degree in 1997. These were followed by specialized training in:

Teaching Methods - Pastry Production - Cake Decoration - Education Technology - Lesson Planning conducted by UNDP/ILO at United Kingdom, Italy, Holland and Switzerland in 1977. Flight Food Service & Hygiene by PIA in Karachi 1980.

* Baking by UNDP/ILO in Thailand in 1980.
* Preventive Maintenance from Sri Lanka in 1990.
* Hotel & Catering Management from Fiji in 1991.
* Tourism Training Methodology conducted by WTO in Karachi in 1991.

He worked as Pakistani Counterpart for F&B Production with UNDP/ILO team, which the Government of Pakistan had brought in for technical upgrading of this Institute in the late 1970s.

He also attended the Catering & Hotel Management Course conducted in Fiji by Japan's Asian Productivity Organization in 1991.

Q: What role PITHM has been playing in providing training opportunities in the field of Tourism?

A: It is over four decades now that PITHM has been training Pakistani youth to qualify for employment in the tourist industry worldwide. In these decades we have trained thousands of our young men and women who have built impressive careers in the hospitality industry and travel trades of not only of Pakistan but also of countries in the West, Middle East and Far East. Some of them have set-up their own restaurants, bakeries, travel agencies etc. Some of them are big names in the tourist industry within the country and abroad.

Q: What type of courses are being offered at the Institute and what are the future demands of courses with increasing awareness and scope of the tourism field?

A: For types of courses, I would say, our syllabus comprises of theory as well as on-hand practical. We offer Diploma and Certificate courses of varying durations in all the disciplines trades employed by hotels, restaurants, tour operators and travel agents. We also offer courses for professions in hospitals and corporate offices. As for scope, please understand that the worldwide tourist industry is very dynamic and labour intensive; it is very quick in adopting new technologies, equipments and processes. We have therefore, to keep updating our new course contents. Our course in electronic reservation systems is a case in point.

Q: In Pakistan there are very limited training opportunities for the professionals in the tourism industry. To what extent do you think the training is required and in what areas it should be inculcated?

A: PITHM is the pioneer in this field but opportunities for professionals in the tourism industry have increased substantially. Our parent Ministry itself has set up the Pakistan Austrian Institute of Tourism & Hotel Management in Swat. The Tourism Development Corporation of Punjab has a training institution and Lahore also has a private sector College of Tourism & Hotel Management. Training requirement in tourism professions is increasing now, also in our country, and I think these training institutions are sufficient, both quantitatively and qualitatively.

Q: The recent development in Pak-India relationship has opened a new window to tourism industry. How do you see the situation with respect to Future Avenue in the field and the increase in demand of the professionals?

A: Yes, Indian tourists are already coming in but they are primarily for religious tours. If and when Indians responds positively to Pakistan's peace offensive we can have tourists of other interests also from there. But we are also expectant of large tourist traffic from China.

We see demand increasing for tourism professionals and that is why we are for example pressing for educated young men and women to take our Tourist Guide Courses.

Q: How many women are coming in this tourism industry and what extra facilities have been provided to them to seek growth in this profession?

A: This is an area where, I think, media like yours have a role to fulfil. Women are not coming in the number that the tourist industry requires. Women enrolment at our institute is lesser than we would like it to be. The requirement is not so much of incentive, as of awareness of the opportunities and safety that are there for them in the tourism industry.

Q: PITHM is a very strong public sector institute with respect to providing training in a particular field. Is the facility being used at its optimum level or do you think there is need for the private sector to come to fore to augment these efforts.

A: Thank you for saying that. In the context of our present capacity and financial resources, I would say yes, it is optimum, but we are constantly improving and expanding. As for the need you say for the private sector, I have my reservations.

Being an educationist, I think education should not be subjected to profit motive. Private sector initiative is profit-motivated always, and rightly so, but if you notice our experience, students come primarily from the Middle Class for entering the tourist industry; their parents cannot afford high fees.

We are imparting qualitatively such courses that our graduates are rubbing shoulders with people who have paid 4 times the higher fees at institutions abroad.

Q: Does PITHM have any affiliation with any foreign training institutes of repute?

A: No, we are not affiliating with any foreign institution. Certificates would be theirs and affiliation fees can be very high.

Q: What are your future plans about expanding the facilities of the Institute?

A: I may tell you that we are working on obtaining the charter to offer Degree Courses and with the induction of Higher Education Commission's support, we plan to make this institution into an University of Tourism. For our students, we are working on founding an Alumni Association and on providing some sports facilities. We already have a well stocked library for them.

Q: Please tell us about the growth of the institute during the past five years and what type of challenges have you been facing while accomplishing your task?

A: In the past five years we have expanded the number of courses. Student enrolment, only in the last two years, has doubled from 380 to 700 The challenge, I would say, is to keep abreast with the employer industry's requirements of quality manpower. We are able to acquit ourselves because of the dedication of our faculty members and, of course, with the active support and guidance of Minister Mrs. Nilofar Bakhtiar, Secretary Mr. Shahid Rafi and Economic Analyst Mr. Zafarullah Siddiqui at our parent Ministry (of Tourism). Our recent linkage with National Vocational and Technical Education Commission (NAVTEC) and the Prime Minister's Technical Education Program are also support factors.