HOSPITALITY SECTOR'S POWER OF DRIVING ECONOMIC GROWTH
TARIQ AHMED SAEEDI
May 21 - 27, 2012
Hospitality sector encompasses hotels, restaurants, recreation and entertainment facilities, etc. The contribution of the sector in the Pakistan's economy is not significant despite the fact that there is a huge potential that can be tapped to increase it. Pakistan is beautiful and sightseeing country boasting of mesmerising human civilizations dated back to 4,000 to 5,000 years in Mehr Garh, Mohenjo-daro, Harappa, Ghandhara etc., historic buildings harking back to 18th century British Raj, melodious mountain valleys of Gilgit, panoramic Arabian sea, etc. These are the attractions for local as well as foreign tourists. Growing militancy and unsafe security environment has adversely affected tourism and hotel industry in Pakistan that has suffered more than $60 billion as direct and indirect costs after its becoming a chief ally of war on terror in 2001. Local and foreign tourists' arrival has sharply decreased and thousands of people earning on related economic activities in the known tourists paradises lost their jobs.
Worldwide, travel and tourism created 98,031,500 jobs directly in 2011 in hotels, travel agencies, passenger transportation services, restaurants, and leisure industries, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council.
During the tenure of former government, hotel industry saw a blooming time as the growth in occupancy and average rate was impressive. According to Pakistan Hotels Association, an average growth rate of hotel industry stood at five per cent during five years through 2005 while in that particular year, 9.7 per cent growth was recorded in the hotel industry and 9.5 per cent in rooms.
Tourism plays very important role in the economies of a number of countries around the world and with implementation of effective policies and provision of tourists-friendly environment, these countries are racking up huge money and boosting up their hospitality sectors.
Muslim nations have not left behind in capitalizing on the economically beneficial tourism sector. According to the media reports, debt-burdened financial hub of UAE, Dubai, is expected to enjoy 4.5 per cent growth this year primarily owing to tourism and trade sectors. Total 9.3 million tourists visited the port city in 2011, generating $4.36 billion in revenues, overriding the effects of disorders in Arab region and its own economic turbulence. Number of guest nights in Dubai climbed 23 per cent to more than 33 million last year.
"This is a respectable rate driven by over six per cent growth in tourism, and similar rates in trade and manufacturing, in addition to transport," AFP reported chief economist, Mohammad Lahouel, at Dubai's Department of Economic Development.
Foreigners as well as locals, whose leisure activities include mainly dine-outs, shopping, outdoor funs, internet surfing, etc, spurred the growth in tourism.
A study can reveal that there are no attractions in what are called Dubai attractions itself when it comes to outdoor adventures, but the efforts with regards to aggressive marketing, presentation, innovative entertaining elements, and nonpartisan hospitality rendered by the Dubai tourism department, actually transform things inside and in the neighbourhood of Dubai sightseeing. Otherwise, what it could be in the desert safari for outdoor enthusiasts, in sailing on a traditional dhow cruise, or driving along Hatta mountain and visiting Hatta village nestled in the heart of rocky hills. In fact, there are appeals for adventure lovers (both local and foreigners) who seek charm in multiple aspects of desert safari from dune bashing and rollercoaster rides on off-roader on stunningly unlevelled terrain to thrilling quad biking, sand boarding, etc. A noticeable thing is the Arab culture and tradition that are deliberately promoted in Bedouin-style campsite erected for stays and hangouts in desert, traditional Arab shows, sumptuous dinners like sizzling barbeques, etc. This suggests the importance Arab government gives to the culture and tradition.
Karachi is not only the financial capital of the country, but the city also holds remarkable archaeological landmarks and long coastal lines dotted with the attractive seaside picnic spots in its embrace. Unfortunately, the sightseeing treasures have not been marketed adequately internationally. Locals enjoy day outs mostly on poorly managed seashores, parks, and lately introduced water sports facilities in the neighbourhood. Foreigners do also like to spend time on beaches while there are several attractions that fail to catch the sights and visits because of their being overwhelmed by population burst and encroachments or neglected by tourism promotion department.
Empress Market, designed in Gothic style, was a supermarket built back in 1884. Eduljeee Dinshaw Charitable Dispensary in Saddar 1882, said to be the first dispensary in the port city, was also a historical record of early settlers of Karachi in shambles due to the government's apathy.
Heritage sites, recreational spots, getaways are not only the assets of a nation, but they also give birth to enormous economic activities. Obviously, tourism does not only promote hotel trade, it has a chain reaction on other trades as well. The industry has a number of indirect and induced impacts. For example, the last was the busiest year in the history of New York City as it saw tons of economic activities driven by the tourists hailing from outside and within the United States. More than 50 million tourists visited the Big Apple in 2011 compared with 48.7 million in 2010 to rejoice at the roster of attractions making the city outshining Orlando and Las Vegas in terms of visitation statistics. The economic impact of visitation was estimated at over $48 billion while tourists were expected to spend more than $32 billion by December 31st on foods, leisure activities etc.
Pakistan is blessed with all the components related to a magnetic tourism destination. The government has to promote a soft image of the country and cultural diversity, and tolerance to foreign lifestyles found in the communities at large to attract flock of foreign tourists. The increase in arrivals will help in reduction of poverty.