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Pakistan Has Huge Potential in Tourism Sector: Luqman Ali Afzal

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 Founder Monal Group, Luqman Ali Afzal host a grand Iftar-dinner

 Naveed Ahmad Khan         Photos by Raja Farid

Naveed Ahmed Khan Photo by Raja Farid

ISLAMABAD – The CEO and founder Monal Group, Luqman Ali Afzal and his spouse hosted a grand Iftar-dinner that proved to be the biggest ‘Iftar’ part of the federal capital so far. Former Prime Minister and Senator Syed Yousuf Raza Gillani, Federal Minister for Defence Production, Rana Tanveer ,Former Federal Ministers, senior political leaders, senior diplomats, distinguished businessmen from Rawalpindi & Islamabad chambers, senior bureaucrats, intellectuals and media persons attended iftar party in a large number.

Pakistan Has Huge Potential in Tourism Sector: Luqman Ali AfzalMr. Luqman is quite famous for hospitality and this value forced the guests not to miss the invitation. The multi-dish reception was thoroughly enjoyed by the guests as Mr. Luqman remained engaged in personal care for every guest of the evening.

During the event, Dr. MurtazaMughal, President,Pakistan Economy Watch informed  that his travels to different parts of Punjab, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Azad Jammu & Kashmir and Islamabad led to interesting revelations reflecting enormous opportunities to promote tourism. While a network of motorways and roads from Karachi to the northern areas of Pakistan is functional, one is disappointed to encounter discomfort because of broken roads, lack of tourism facilities and unhygienic conditions rampant in parts of AJK and KP. There is no visible change in terms of tourist facilities reflecting the absence of amenities to people expecting to take a break from their routine life and enjoy beautiful landscapes.

Pakistan Has Huge Potential in Tourism Sector: Luqman Ali Afzal Talking about promoting tourism in Pakistan, Mr. Zahid Latif Khan, the chairman of ISE Tower REIT Management Company Limited  former President RCCI said  in countries where the culture of tourism and hospitality exists, travelers feel comfortable and safe in spending their holidays. In Pakistan, given its multibillion dollar tourism potential, it is imperative that the subjects of hotel management and tourist guide are offered in universities so that a critical mass is produced in the coming 10 years which will be instrumental in modernizing the tourist industry. Departments focusing on tourism, hotel management and hospitality in the universities of KP, AJK and GB should be established where specialized courses on tourism and travel are offered. Experts from abroad should be engaged by such universities to train local students on how to promote the culture of tourism.

Pakistan Has Huge Potential in Tourism Sector: Luqman Ali Afzal The ambassador appreciated Mr. Luqman Ali Afzal hospitality and said he is the ideal man and he promotes tourism in Pakistan and builds the Pakistan soft image in the world. He said that Mr. Luqman built Monal on the mountains which is in no way inferior to international standards.

Mr.Ahsan Zafar Bakhtawari, President, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry said that statistics show that on average, around 7,500 Sikhs from India and around 2,000 from Europe, the USA, and Canada visit Pakistan annually. Similarly, around 2,000 Buddhists visit their holy sites in Pakistan.

Pakistan Has Huge Potential in Tourism Sector: Luqman Ali Afzal This is far below the potential as there are around 30 million Sikhs and around 500 million Buddhism believers living in different countries across the world.

He said that the important need of the time is to promote inter-religious harmony so that income can be increased by promoting religious tourism.

“Pakistan is a country with landmarks of various religious ethnicities and unexplored potential for religious tourism,” Ahsan Zafar Bakhtawari added.

Speaking on the occasion, Luqman Ali Afzal said that Ramadan is a month of self-introspection and restraint and it essentially highlights the importance of sharing and helping our less fortunate fellow human beings. He said that Iftar meals bring people together and promote coherence between different segments of the society.

There is no doubt that Pakistan has a lot of potential in tourism but in order to attract tourists, we need to set our house in order. For example, leave alone a foreign tourist, even if a local tourist wants to travel from Islamabad to Hunza, will he/she find decent clean toilets on this long journey? Will there be a nice restaurant where a family can eat or a workshop where he can fix his car if the brakes fail? So the answer is, unless and until we have our basic infrastructure in place, the volume of tourists will not increase. Our infrastructure has to be looked into before we open our areas to foreign tourists.

Regarding tourism and hospitality, he said if taken care of properly, the tourism and hospitality industry has the potential of contributing to the national economy to great proportions. Look at our regional countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Nepal and even Uzbekistan, where tourism and hospitality industries contribute significantly to the national exchequer. Mr. Luqman became the first Pakistani to be awarded a Pride of Performance award for ‘entrepreneurship’.

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