4th Annual Tech Valley Conference Concludes Successfully

The 4th annual Tech Valley Conference took place on the 19th & 20th April, 2019 at Elites Hotel, Nathiagali, a district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for 700+ innovators, and entrepreneurs. The conference presented a unique perspective on tourism in Pakistan, as it was the first of its kind in Galiyat region, set with the objective of highlighting the real challenges of the tourism industry in Pakistan.

The annual tourism conference hosted notable dignitaries from all across Pakistan including Mr. Zulfi Bukhari (Special Assistant to Prime Minister & Chairman National Tourism Coordination), Mr.Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui (Federal Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunication), Mr. Raza Ali Habib (Director General Galiyat Development Authority), Azam Khan Swati (Federal Minister for Parliamentary Affairs.) , Dr. Shahbaz Khan (MD KP IT Board) Fida Khan (Minister Tourism Department Gilgit Baltistan), Mr. Ibrahim Sanai ( Education Minister Gilgit Baltistan) Zafar Ali (Secretary Culture & Tourism Department, Government of Balochistan) Sidra Imran (MPA Sindh) & Amna Sardar ( Ex MPA Galiyat).

This premier tourism event was an outstanding combined effort of some of the leading development organizations i.e World Bank Group, Multi-Donor Trust Fund , Hashoo Group, British Council, Tourism Corporation Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (TCKP), District Government Abbottabad, Government bodies i.e Galiyat Development Authority, KP IT Board, PTI, Government of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, PTV world & private sector organization including Careem, Regent Plaza, Spotcomm, Momentum, Sehat Kahani Frontier Medical and Dental College, Abbottabad, Gilgit Baltistan Tourism Department, National Tourism Coordination Board  among many others. Furthermore, the leading incubation center Durshal Abbottabad was also an essential partner for TVC19.

Galiyat Development Authority, as an official partner for TVC19, played a vital role in hosting the Tech Valley Conference 2019. Director General, Raza Ali Habib launched their official mobile application and web portal where all required information about Galiyat can be traced and taken care off.  This app will also provide access to a teledoctor service for all tourists in partnership with Sehat Kahani. They have also inaugurated free wifi in Galiyat Region.

In order to encourage startups & creation of sustainable jobs in the tourism sector, Galiyat Development Authority announced free showcase space to all startups in a prime location in Nathiagali in collaboration with Tech Valley Abbottabad. This is will be the first step towards Tourism 4.0  and was hugely appreciated by the audience.

Multiple panels were conducted to highlight the core themes; Capacity building, Job creation, Ecotourism, Women empowerment, Tourism 4.0, Financial Inclusion. Leading experts such as Saad Hamid, (Developer Community Manager at Google) summarized the concept of Tourism 4.0 in a panel attended by key  industry leaders such as Jehan Ara (President, P@SHA), Dr. Sara Saeed (CEO, Sehat Kahani), Zeeshan Bokhari (DG Ministry of IT & Telecom), Shahbaz Khan (Managing Director, KP IT Board),Rizwan Mir( CEO USF) and  Mohammad Alam (Head Department of Tourism and Hospitality,Hazara University).

Umar Farooq, CEO & Founder of Tech Valley had a panel discussion on The Road Map to a Center of Excellence: Exploring Tourists’ Needs talked about the importance of digital tourism in Pakistan in eliminating the current challenges with James Hampson (Acting Country Director, British Council-Pakistan), Asma Chishty (Publisher, Destinations Magazine), Dr Shahid Qureshi (Director of CED, IBA), Shan Rehman (Social Development Specialist, World Bank Group) and had a brief discussion on the issues faced by tourists and highlighted the solutions of these problems and also endorsed the idea of creating the first-ever Tourism Centre of Excellence in Pakistan.

Keynotes conducted to highlighting the 6 themes (Capacity building, Job creation, Ecotourism, Women empowerment, Tourism 4.0, Financial Inclusion) whilst Mr. Mirza Masood Baig, (Head  PTV World),  Azam Khan Swati (Federal Minister for Parliamentary Affairs) and Taimoor Salahuddin aka Mooro (Social Media Influencer), Kiran Afzal (Senior Private Sector Specialist, Finance, Competitiveness and Innovation, World Bank Group)  highlighted the role of shared economy in tourism.  Air Commodore Asim Ijaz, PAF Base Kala Bagh has also graced the event with his presence.

Alex Reynold (Travel Vlogger) and Junaid Akram, (social media vlogger) presented the audience with unconventional ways of marketing Pakistan to the globe  – with the emphasis on how to think out of the box to uplift this untapped market.

Almost 21 startups from GB to Karachi showcased their unique ideas that can transform the tourism industry and provided a new platform to debate and discuss the disruptions facing the tech & tourism industry. Pak Touring, Apricot, Chakar, Mapin, Mapalytics, Live Stick, Hostinn, Lok Sawari, Beydaar News, Karpe Diem, Explore Pakistan, Nano IT Solutions, Qasas ul Safar, Tibolli.net, Traverous, Traviour, Tripmate, Make a tour, Falcon Adventure Club, Ghoomlo, and Plate 101 participated and decorated the startup gallery of  Tech Valley Conference 2019; Tech Tourism & Trade.

Keeping in view the theme; Capacity building, Job creation, Ecotourism, Women Empowerment, Tourism 4.0, Financial Inclusion in the domestic tourism industry, multiple workshops were conducted at the Tech ValleyConference 19 catering to almost 300 participants. The workshop sessions were moderated by Dr.Shahab Imam CEO Consultant & Lawyer, Najam us Sahar, Program Manager Durshal Abbottabad, Raza Matin ; Marketing Consultant at Google; Imran Ghazali; Digital Marketing Specialist UNICEF & World Bank & Shehab Farrukh Niazi, Founder Ticket2Pakistan.

Mr. Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui Federal Minister IT, in his keynote speech at Tech Valley Conference 2019 said that tourism and technology are to go hand-in-hand for the progression of this sector so that it would eventually become a revenue-generating avenue by providing employment and business opportunities.

Chief Guest; Mr. Zulfi Bukhari National Tourism Board (NTB) Chairman in his speech mentioned that “With the establishment of a tourism zone and tourism authority, the foreign tourists would be able to get all facilities under one-window operation,” thereby attracting a larger number of toursits and visitors to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Mr. Bukhari also discussed the significance of unity & and the need for self-branding for tourism promotion & sustainable job creation in Pakistan. He clearly mentioned the priority of the Government in transforming the tourism landscape and creating new opportunities for locals.

NTB chairman hailed the KP government for taking tangible steps for the promotion of tourism and termed the engagement of Tech Valley Abbottabad as a private sector entity, a positive initiative in that direction.

The authorities from Gilgit Baltistan also actively participated in Tech Tourism and Trade Conference of 2019, and shared their viewpoints.

Minister Tourism Fida Khan, Education Minister Ibrahim Sanai, both took part in the panel, Exploring the Past to Understand the Future: How Can Pakistan Promote Tourism and showcased its startups.

On 19th April, in a networking dinner Hunar Band from Yasin Valley, GB serenaded the audience with their lilting rubab performance and a fine exhibit of the folk dance of GB.

The overall objective of TVC 19 was to gather policy makers and decision makers under one roof and have a dialogue on the creation of sustainable jobs through the first ever tourism based Tourism Centre of Excellence. The main driver of this COE is the need for startup companies & local communities to contribute to the digital tourism development in Pakistan & create long term sustainable jobs for the people of Pakistan.

Tech Valley Conference 2019 also partnered with renowned media like ARY News as an exclusive media partner and PTV World as TV media Partner among  Brando Marketing, Pro-Pakistani, Mansehra News, Beydaar News, Sargam News, Hazara Online TV, & Imran Ghazali to name a few.

The annual Tech Valley Conference 2019 concluded on a positive note, bringing attention to the concept of 4.0, sustainable job creation, women empowerment eco-friendly & responsible tourism for the development and progress of a prosperous Pakistan.

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