Sindh Tourism Directorate Wants to Ban International Travel and Booking Sites

Sindh Directorate of Tourist Services (DTS) has requested the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to block leading international travel booking and hotel reservation websites including, Expedia, Airbnb, and Agoda.

The authority is seemingly doing so due to a complaint received from a local travel operator, Travel Horizontal. The move comes as a surprise, considering that the federal government is doing its best to make Pakistan a tourist hub.

According to Sindh DTS Controller Manzoor Hussain Mari, the complaint said:

These online services have a competitive advantage over local travel and tourism operators as they are not subject to Pakistan’s tax regime. They often enjoy a price advantage of up to 15 to 20% over local companies.

Travel Horizontal claimed that these companies often mislead prospective tourists regarding room rents and other policies and that their services are not regularized under the local laws.

The provincial DTS is responsible for regulating all travel and booking services while also keeping a check on prices and customer satisfaction.

However, the directorate’s decision is supposedly being made without taking into consideration the users and local as well as foreign tour and travel operators, which shows a lack of professionalism. When asked about the response of concerned websites, Sindh DTS Controller said that they haven’t contacted these websites.

The complete ban on these websites not only impacts the prospective tourists planning to visit Pakistan, but also the local travelers who travel abroad.

According to the reports, the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) had requested to review the complaint under section 37 of the cybercrime act. DTS, however, directly asked FIA for a ban without sending their feedback to PTA.

Via Tribune

Feature Writer

  • These Travel operators want to make a quick buck by banning these sites. shameful act whats next ban of as it impacts local business and ban of Ali Express.

    • That is not the issue. The issue, as explained in the article, is that these apps do not pay any taxes in Pakistan and make profits by virtually operating in Pakistan. All these interenet services should be brought under tax net to give equaly opportunity to local businesses…

      • Correct! The real issue is 13 % service sales tax (SRB) and 10% withholding tax. These online hotel booking companies don’t pay taxes & the travel agents have to pay taxes.
        These companies have competitive advantage because unlike local businesses these companies are not subject to Pakistan’s tax regime. Pakistan travel agencies complain that current tax laws allow foreign companies to avoid collecting different taxes, which can run as high between 15-20 percent of the room price. The disparity, they say, gives foreign firms a price advantage. Hence on one side clientele is shared thereby reducing revenues and on the other hand national exchequer is also deprived of revenues which could have been collected from these companies, had they been subjected to Pakistani law.
        Some of these companies are of Indian origin. While booking a room, these companies collect important data of Pakistani citizen of Pakistan like passport, address, email, contact details and whereabouts etc. This information if incorrectly used or collected with malign intent can tantamount to a potential national security threat.

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