“For a journey to be successful, a spirit of absolute determination is a must” states Mr.Umar Farooq (Co-Founder & CEO Tech Valley Abbottabad) when questioned about one of the leading Tourism conferences of Pakistan.
Hosted by Tech Valley Abbottabad on 10th March at Jalal Baba Auditorium, Tourism, Tech and Travel is the first of its kind conference to bring together multiple stakeholders from across Pakistan and abroad, such as the Hashoo Group, TPL Maps, Sehat Kahani, Hotel Elites, Karakuram Hotel, KP IT Board and TCKP as main sponsors along with Careem as logistics partner and ARY Digital as the exclusive media partner.
Mr. Asad Umar (MNA & Chairman Standing Committee on Industries and Production) graced the event as chief guest.
“CPEC is the biggest opportunity for tourism and hospitality industry. This gathering has many young entrepreneurs that should avail the opportunities coming in the region due to CPEC,” said Mr. Asad Umar. He lauded Mr. Umar Farooq for his efforts to organize such events for the tourism & tech industries of Pakistan.
The main theme of the conference revolved around how the tourism of Pakistan can play a positive role in achieving the 1 Trillion GDP target. Bringing together a diverse range of speakers, each bringing a unique experience to the dialogue, multiple opportunities of making Pakistan a tourist hub were explored.
Yusuf Hussain (CEO, IGNITE) talked about the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which has given rise to innovation – a key element for the rise and fall of economies. These ideologies were further endorsed and discussions were by Lashley Pulsipher (CMO, Hashoo Group), Mushtaq Ahmed (MD, TCKP), Junaid Saleem (CEO, Tripkar) and Nadeem Hussain (CEO, Planet N) held to explore contributing factors such as importance of hospitality, importance of female empowerment and Financial Inclusivity.
Lashley said that Hashoo is the pioneer group in the hospitality industry in Pakistan and committed to the development of travel and tourism industry of Pakistan. The group was founded by a young entrepreneur from Balochistan.
She added, “We believe that entrepreneurship is a critical tool for promoting economic growth and job creation in Pakistan.” She has urged the women of KP to come forward in the formal economical workforce as Hashoo group is now working on creating more flexible working opportunities for women.
Mushtaq Ahmed MD TCKP, during his speech, said there is a need to hold such conferences to present a better image of KP to the world. “We will extend our support to arrange such events and will offer paid internships in TCKP for young entrepreneurs,” he added.
Rosemary Hilhorst, Director, British Council Pakistan, announced that British Council will continue to work with partners like Tech Valley to promote education, culture and English language. British Council is currently working in one hundred and ten countries around the world, connecting young people with each other and will introduce some new exciting programs for the youth of KP with Tech Valley’s collaboration. “Great to be part of this panel and good to see many young women in the audience”, she said.
“Don’t wait, explore Pakistan. Institutions do have a role to play but it’s you who is in the institution” said Dr. Nasir Ali, Project Director Pak-Austria Fachhochschule.
The conference brought together over 30 speakers, each one of them bringing different aspects of the 3Ts.
Junaid Iqbal (MD, Careem) spoke about the importance of technology over the past decade, and how Careem, today, has become a household name.
Another success story that was put forward by Nabeel Qadeer (Lead & Host, Idea Croron ka), who started off with zero sponsors to 45 sponsors.
Mr. Nadeem Hussain, CEO Planet N, said that there has never been a better time to be an entrepreneur while speaking at Tech Valley Conference 2018. He added that Artificial Intelligence will reshape the future of tourism & hospitality industry.
Two special workshops were conducted by Madiha Hamid (Founder, Chefling Tales) and Harris Bhatti (HMP, WMP) on Insights for Marketing and Film-Making respectively.
Moreover, two important topics were explored through panel discussions. The first one on ‘Role of Entrepreneurs in Developing Tourism’, moderated by Saad Hamid (CEO, DEMO) touched upon the opportunities and challenges for young people of KP in launching their own enterprises.
Raza Matin (Consultant, Google) stressed upon the fact that young people need to use digital skills to project a better image of Pakistan. Maryam Mohiuddin (CEO, SIL) and Samiullah (Head of Engineering, TPL Maps) endorsed the idea by speaking about different startups in the space. Samiullah said that TPL aims for virtual tours of tourist landmarks and will provide a web portal for tourism services. The concept and connection between health and tourism was also discussed by Makkiya Jawed (Director, Sehat Kahani).
The panel on ‘Public Private Partnerships’ brought together stakeholders from the public and private sectors. Moderated by Syed Shamoon Hashmi (Joint Secretary at National Assembly), participants contributed their valuable insights. More specifically, Asad Umar called upon the private sector experts to push the government to do their job. Ms. Cynthia Ritchie, Filmmaker, also shared her travel adventures. She said that if she had listened to the media, she might never have come to Pakistan. Wajahat Malik, Chairman PIMFF, talked about envisioning responsible tourism. Mohsin Termezy, ICT specialist USAID, gave an overview of USAID SMEA program.
The event ended with special acknowledgment by Mr Umar Farooq to the entire audience and the sponsors and supporters. Umar Farooq, CEO Tech Valley, talked on how Tech Valley has worked for the last 3 years along with many key partners to provide exposure to the people of KP to avail job opportunities, capacity building training, First Tourism startup incubator and coworking space for young entrepreneurs ,women empowerment via freelancing and most recently initiation of an exclusive hospitality job portal (www.hoteljobs.com.pk).
Mr. Abdullah Ijaz (Co-founder Tech Valley) said
This is the first time we are witnessing a tourism event on such a large scale. In presence of various stakeholders, it’s been stressed that the combination of technology and tourism is a wondrous one. Capitalising on latest innovation, amazing opportunities lie ahead. Now it’s high time to transform this vision into reality. We are happy to announce that Tech Valley is initiating amazing projects like Tourism Incubator, Job portal and training specifically focused on the tourism sector. We aim to transform tourism eco-system of Pakistan in the next 5 years with support from right partners.
TVC is also embarking on a new journey to create a dialogue among all important stakeholders related to tourism, travel and tech to rebuild the ecosystem of tourism in Pakistan. The first project under this initiative is a unique tourism accelerator which will be launched very soon.
Other media partners for the conference included ProPakistani, siasat.pk, Technology Times, Neo HD, Mansehra news, Sargaram, Hazara and Mansehra news.
Other sponsors, such as Hotel Demanchi, Abbott Gardens, Elites Nathiagali, Pure n Pure,, Toyota Abbott, Manak, also received gratitude for their services.
The event was a success because of the support from District Abbottabad, Cantonment Board Abbottabad, Chefling Tales, The Hive, OPEN, Future Now, Social innovation lab, Nayatel, Alchemative, GBG Peshawar, Adventure Times, Abbottabad police, Engro Foundation and TripKar as they showed their full support to this conference.
At the end, a special shout out must be given to all the people who took out time and attended this conference. Next year, Tech Valley aims to bring a bigger and better conference – marking a new journey towards a prosperous Pakistan.