HOTEL INDUSTRY

Tourism contributes highest percentage to room occupancy

SHABBIR H. KAZMI, Special Correspondent
Apr 16 - 22, 2007

In the earlier days of Pakistan, in Karachi, there was a hotel that had inscribed at its reception "under European management", implying that foreign management was superior to the local management. In those days the first hotel of any consequence was the Metropole, with the Beach Luxury Hotel standing second. Both these hotels were owned by Avari family, who may be called the pioneers of the hotel industry in Pakistan.

Since 1944 the Avari family has built, owned and managed hotels in Karachi, Lahore and Dubai. Inside Pakistan, the group owns and operates Avari Towers and Beach Luxury at the seafront in Karachi and Avari in Lahore. The group also manages a deluxe property in Dubai called Avari Dubai. At every Avari hotel one can be sure of receiving the same warm welcome, be offered comfortable and well planned accommodation alongside a varied choice of food and beverage options all delivered with local flair and finesse.

AVARI TOWERS

With an outstanding choice of accommodation, recreation, conference and banqueting facilities and a great choice of food and beverage venues the Avari Towers is the perfect stay choice in Karachi. Shopping centres, business districts, Karachi seaports and beaches can be accessed easily from the hotel.

Avari Towers has 236 well pre-arranged bedrooms with all the modern facilities that one may expects from a five-star hotel like individually controlled air conditioning, satellite television, tea/coffee making facilities and an in-room safe. The newly refurbished conference and banqueting rooms have been designed to offer complete flexibility to cater to any event from a board meeting for 10 up to a gala reception for 1,000 people. The team of event managers is always on hand from the moment from the initial enquiry right through to the time the last guest leaves.

Avari Lahore is boutique style hotel established in lush landscaped award winning gardens right in the heart of the city. It offers a wide range of accommodation, food and beverage, recreational as well as conference and banqueting facilities. It can rightly be termed the perfect choice whatever the purpose of the visit may be.

The hotel has 188 air-conditioned rooms. All the rooms are designed to offer maximum comfort with features including, plump duvets, pillow menu, three telephones, voice messaging, satellite television, mini bar, tea and coffee making facilities and bright modern en-suite bathrooms. To accommodate the needs of a modern traveller the hotel also offers specialty accommodations. Lady Avari Rooms offer accommodation for the single female travellers, providing cocooned comfort, privacy and security.

Avari Lahore also offers excellent facilities to allow its clients keep up with his/her usual fitness regime or simply to unwind and relax. Facilities include: work-out studio offering free weights as well as cardiovascular machines, tennis court, open air temperature controlled swimming pool, spa bath, jogging track, snooker and table tennis and ample landscaped gardens.

Avari Dubai is situated in downtown Dubai close to all the major business districts and shopping centres. It offers wide range of accommodation, food and beverage venues, a recreation centre and meeting facilities. The hotel offers something for everyone, whatever the purpose of visit may be. It has a total of 190 individually air-conditioned bedrooms. All the rooms offer the comfort to make the person realize perfectly at home. The rooftop is the perfect place to soak up the sun or enjoy a dip in the temperature controlled swimming pool. The 7th Heaven health club offers a range of equipment to keep up the fitness regime as well as a sauna and steam bath.

Beach Luxury Hotel is the first and still the only resort hotel in the port city of Karachi. It claims to be a three-star but environment-friendly resort hotel constructed at the edge of the Arabian Sea. It is also conveniently located offering easy access to the business, banking, commercial and shopping districts of Karachi. It also offers convenient approach to the Karachi port. Set amidst lush tropical gardens 82 deluxe, executive rooms and beach suites offer splendid views of the Arabian Sea. All the rooms are fully equipped with satellite television, direct dial telephone, mini bar (on request) and in-room electronic safe deposit box. It has Pakistan's only floating BBQ restaurant offering continental buffet dinner and watching the chefs prepare specialties at the live cooking stations. One can enjoy listening to the live music with the cool breeze of Arabian Sea.

OUTLOOK

Hotels in Pakistan suffered a lot during 90s mainly because of the negative perception about the country. In the post 9/11 scenario the conditions became even worse, first because of war in Afghanistan and then in Iraq. Though the conditions have changed, the number of people visiting Pakistan still remains low. On top of this passenger traffic is limited to a few destinations, i.e. Karachi, Islamabad, Lahore and Faisalabad. The foreigners visiting Northern Areas are still hesitant because of inadequate transport system, poor boarding and lodging facilities and above all the persistent war-like situation in Afghanistan.

Some of the critics may say that lately occupancy percentage has improved and the shelf rates have also gone up which are positive for the hotel sector. However, two factors remain very crucial 1) high rate of inflation in the country is pushing up cost of doing business and 2) hardly any addition of new hotel in the category of three stars and above. Though the number of guest houses has been on the rise, these guest houses cannot be a substitute of good hotels.

Comfort and home-like environment is a must for a hotel. However, there are some basic requisites, the top most being the security. Guests may feel one hundred percent secure in the hotel but they also have to go out for meeting their business counterparts, sightseeing, shopping and entertainment. Unless the perception about the city and the country is right nobody would like to remain confined to his/her hotel room.

Hotels are one of the earners of foreign exchange. Since the largest number of foreigners stay at five-star hotels, they have to offer world class facilities to qualify and retain their ranking. At times this demands import of few items be it food and beverage or bathroom fittings, crockery and cutlery. Hotels have been demanding duty-free import of such items. At times their demands were denied due to scarce foreign exchange. However, hotels were also alleged for selling these duty-free items in the local market at a very high premium.

Since it is virtually impossible to ensure the use of these items by the hotels only, some other measures have to be taken to facilitate them. One of the alternatives could be linking foreign exchange expenditures with forex earning. They may be allowed to import products amounting to 80% of their foreign exchange earnings. However, they have to give undertaking that these items will not be sold in the local market.

Yet another reason is that despite having a lot of attraction for tourists, the concerned people have not been able to attract them. One of the factors could be the negative perception about the country but the real issues are not even talked about. Pakistan has some of oldest archeological sites having a lot of attraction for the people living in the region but tour operators have not been able to come up with attractive packages and marketing them effectively.

Once upon a time Pakistan's national airline used to market such packages but now it seems to have lost the steam. The airline alone just cannot attract the tourists. The other stakeholders, i.e. Ministry of Tourism, travel agents and tour operators also have to play their respective role. However, someone has to act as the captain to develop synergy and economies of scale.

One of the factors contributing to higher occupancy of the hotels in Pakistan is increasing inflow of tourists. Year 2007 has been declared 'Destination Pakistan 2007. In order to attract tourists the country has to highlight and market destinations having special attraction for foreigners. Pakistan offers the true essence of beauty and adventure, from white water rafting in the mighty Indus, and mountaineering in the highest mountains of the world to desert safaris offering adventure to the extreme.

LOVE FOR FOOD

It is certain that the rich hospitality will take culinary experience to another level. Pakistan's love for food is unparalleled and its ethnic cuisines offer sumptuously delicate blend of flavors and spices. Pakistan invites the visitors to immerse themselves in the country's illustrious heritage! There is great pride in the handicrafts which hark back to the beginning of civilization for inspiration. Each region of the country has an art of its own, alluding to the richness of the history.

Pakistan is endowed with a rich and varied flora and fauna. High Himalayas, Karakoram and the Hindukush ranges with their alpine meadows and permanent snowline, coniferous forests down the sub-mountain scrub, the vast Indus plain merging into the great desert, the coast line and wetlands - all offer a remarkably rich variety of vegetation and associated wildlife including avifauna, both endemic and migratory. Ten of 18 mammalian orders are represented in Pakistan with species ranging from the world's smallest surviving mammals, the Mediterranean Pigmy Shrew, to the largest mammal ever known; the Blue Whale.

Northern Areas of Pakistan, spread over 72,496 sq. km. are as fascinating as its southern region. Amidst towering snowclad peaks with heights varying from 1000 meters to over 8000 meters, the valleys of Gilgit, Hunza and Skardu recall Shangrila. The cultural patterns in this region are as interesting as its topography.

The people with typical costumes, folk dances, music and sports like polo and Buzkashi provide the traveler an unforgettable experience. Nowhere in the world there is such a great concentration of high mountains, peaks, glaciers and passes except Pakistan. Of the 14 over 8000 peaks on earth, 4 occupy an amphitheater at the head of Baltoro glacier in the Karakoram Range. These are: K-2, Broad Peak, Gasherbrum-I and Gasherbrum-II. There is yet another which is equally great, that is, Nanga Parbat at the western most ends of the Himalayas.

In addition to that, there are 68 peaks over 7000 meters and hundreds which are over 6000 meters high. The Northern Pakistan has some of the longest glaciers outside Polar region; Siachen, Hispar, Biafo, Baltoro, Batura, Yenguta, Chiantar, Trich and Atrak. The lower Himalayan valleys of Swat, Kaghan and Chitral in the Hindukush range equally share the beauty and diverse culture of the Northern Pakistan.

INDUS VALLEY

Pakistan is important for many religions of the world. The Indus Valley gave rise to one of the first great civilizations. Mahayana Buddhism also developed here as did the Sikh religion under Guru Nanak. Pakistan was created in the Indus Valley specifically to provide the Muslims of South Asia with a state of their own, and there are very few countries where religion plays such an important role in the lives of people.

Muslims make up over 98% of the population of Pakistan, with slightly more Protestants than Catholics. The Hindus, mostly nomad living in the south account for less than 1% of the population. In Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi and Quetta there are small communities of Buddhists and there is a tiny group of animist Kalash living in Chitral near the Afghan border.

Pakistan is a treasure house of Muslim architecture. Lahore, the cultural hub of Pakistan, is situated along the bank of Ravi River. The city has witnessed the rise and fall of many dynasties like Ghaznavis, Ghoris and Slaves before the arrival of the Mughals. The city was conquered by Babar of Ferghana (situated in Uzbekistan), the founder of the Mughal dynasty.

All the important monuments like the Royal Fort and the Mosque, Wazir Khan's Mosque, tombs of Jehangir, Asif Jah, Noor Jehan and the Shalimar Gardens, Hiran Minar, etc. were constructed during this period. On the other hand, the shrines, mosques and forts located in and around Multan and Bahawalpur are masterpieces of the early Muslim architecture.

Some important buildings are forts at Multan and Derawar, shrines of Shaikh Bahauddin Zakaria, Shah Rukan-e-Alam, Hazrat Shams Tabrez in Multan and Tomb of Bibi Jiwandi in Uch Sharif near Bahawalpur. The tombs of Chaukundi and the remains at Banbhore and the necropolis of a million graves at Makli hills near Thatta, together with the Shahjehan Mosque of Thatta are exquisite specimens of Muslim architecture, stone carving and glazed tile decorations.

MOUNTAINS

Pakistan invites visitors to a journey of unbridled joy and beauty, from the mountains of the Himalayas and the Karakorum to the rich hospitality of Lahore and the breathtaking stark beauty of the Thar desert. The rich culture emanates from the ancient Indus and Gandhara civilizations while the traditions can be traced back to Muslim, Buddhist and Central Asian influences.

The Indus Valley was home to the largest of the four ancient urban civilizations of Egypt, Mesopotamia, South Asia and China. Most of its ruins, even its major cities, remain to be excavated. The ancient Indus script has not been deciphered. Many questions about the Indus people who created this highly complex culture remain unanswered, but other aspects of their society can be answered through various types of archaeological studies.

The Indus Valley Civilization was at its peak from the 3rd till the middle of the 2nd millennium BC. Discovered in 1922, Moenjodaro was once a metropolis of great importance, forming part of the Indus Valley Civilization with Harappa, Kot Diji and recently discovered Mehrgarh in Balochistan. Moenjodaro is considered as one of the most spectacular ancient cities of the world. It had mud and baked bricks' buildings, an elaborately covered drainage system, a large state granary, a spacious pillared hall, a College of Priests, a palace and a citadel. Harappa, another major city of the Indus Valley Civilization, was surrounded by a massive brick wall fortification. Other features and plan of the city were similar to that of Moenjodaro. The Kot Diji culture is marked by well-made pottery and houses built of mud-bricks and stone foundations.

Mehrgarh, the oldest civilization, remains of which were recently found in the district Kachhi of Balochistan, was the pioneer of the Indus Valley Civilization. The evidence of crop cultivation, animal husbandry and human settlement has been found there. The inhabitants of Mehrgarh were living in mud-brick houses and learned to make pottery around 6,000 B.C.

HOTELS IN PAKISTAN

RAWALPINDI HOTELS

Pearl Continental Hotel Rawalpindi Pakistan

Shalimar Hotel Rawalpindi Pakistan

Hotel Akbar International Rawalpindi

Heavens Inn Motel Rawalpindi

Flashman's Hotel Rawalpindi

Hotel De Mall Rawalpindi

ISLAMABAD HOTELS

Serena Hotel Islamabad Pakistan

Marriott Hotel Islamabad Pakistan

Hotel Crown Plaza Islamabad

Best Western Hotel Islamabad

Holiday Inn Islamabad Pakistan

Envoy Continental Hotel Islamabad

Islamabad Regency Hotel

Pak Palace Hotel Islamabad

Dream Land Motel Islamabad

Hotel Marina International Islamabad

Hotel Ambassador Islamabad

Royal Inn Hotel Islamabad

Hotel De Papae (Intl) Islamabad Pakistan

LAHORE HOTELS

Avari Hotel Lahore Pakistan

Pearl Continental Hotel Lahore Pakistan

Leaders Inn Hotel Lahore Pakistan

Holiday Inn Lahore Pakistan

Hotel Sunfort Lahore

Lahore Country Club Hotel Pakistan

Quick Continental Motel Lahore

Hotel Ambassador Lahore

Hotel Crowne Plazza Lahore Pakistan

Amer Hotel Lahore Pakistan

The Residency Hotel Lahore Pakistan

Best Westen Shalimar Hotel Lahore Pakistan

Regency Inn Hotel Lahore Pakistan

KARACHI HOTELS

Pearl Continental Hotel Karachi Pakistan

Sheraton Karachi Hotel and Towers Pakistan

Avari Towers Hotel Karachi Pakistan

Marriott Hotel Karachi Pakistan

Dream World Hotel & Resort Karachi Pakistan

Regent Plaza Hotel & Convention Centre Karachi

Carlton Hotel Karachi Pakistan Back to Top

Mehran Hotel Karachi Pakistan

Grand Mercure AirPort Hotel Karachi

Days Inn Hotel Karachi

Beach Luxury Hotel Karachi Pakistan

Metropole Hotel

Liberty Inn Hotel

Faran Hotel

Bloom Luxuary Hotel

PESHAWAR HOTELS

Pearl Continental Hotel Peshawar Pakistan

Hotel Grand Peshawar Pakistan

Grand Mercure Karachi Airport Hotel

NORTHERN AREAS HOTELS

Ayubia Motel Ayubia Muree

Pearl Continental Hotel Bhurban Murree

Shangrila Resort Hotel Murree

Gilgit Motel Gilgit

Hunza Motel Gilgit

Gilgit Serena Lodge

Hunza Baltit Inn Serena Gilgit

Hunza Marcopolo Inn Hotel Hunza

Chitral Motel

Hindukush Heights Hotel

Naran Motel

Balakot Motel Back to Top

Swat Serena Hotel

RockCity Resort Swat

Kalam Motel

Malam Jabba Motel

Miandam Motel

Shangrila Pines Hotel Nathia Gali

Khaplu Motel Baltistan

Shangrila Skardu Hotel & Resorts

BALOCHISTAN MOTEL

Ziarat Motel

Quetta Serena Hotel Quetta

FAISALABAD HOTELS

Faisalabad Serena Hotel Faisalabad

Prime Hotel & Restaurant Faisalabad

MULTAN HOTELS

Holiday Inn Multan

Sindabad Hotel Multan

Dubai Palace Hotel

HYDERABAD HOTELS

Indus Hotel Hyderabad

SIALKOT HOTEL

Hotel Taj Palace Hotel Sialkot

RT Hotel Sialkot

GWADAR HOTEL

Zaver Pearl-Continental Hotels Pakistan

MIRPUR HOTEL

Mirpur Regency Hotel