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Online hotel booking in Pakistan ‘set to grow’

Online hotel booking in Pakistan ‘set to grow’

KARACHI: When it comes to hotel room booking, Wi-fi is a deal-breaker with 68 per cent of visitors asking for this amenity, followed by 24pc looking for swimming pools and 8pc searching for air-conditioned rooms, according to a report released by hotel booking website

Speaking at the launch of the report, Jovago Managing Direc­tor Nadine Malik said Pakistan’s hospitality industry is set to grow in the years to come and the explosion of e-commerce will help the country’s potential as a tourist destination.

Citing World Travel and Tour­ism Council data, she said that visitors to Pakistan are ex­pected to grow to two million by 2020., funded by Ger­man start-up incubator and venture capital firm Rocket Inter­net, made inroads to Pakistan last year and is now expanding to Myanmar and Bangladesh.

Talking about the experience of ‘educating’ hotel and guesthouse owners, she said that it was the website’s biggest challenge to get hoteliers to understand the concept of online bookings rather the traditional travel agent booking or walk-in customers.

Sharing details, she said that 31pc of visitors to opted for Lahore. Money re­­mained the first criterion when it came to booking hotel rooms, followed by quality. The report notes security problems, lack of infrastructure, negative perception of Pakistan and lack of understanding IT as major challenges in the hospitality sector.

In a bid to localise the effort, the portal has introduced the ‘book now, pay later’ model for Pakistani guesthouses, Ms Malik said. “Since most travellers here don’t have credit cards (a necessary requirement for booking hotel rooms globally) and others have security fears, paying later option was introduced.

The report introduces Pakis­tan as home to six Unesco-recognised heritage sites including Mohenjodero, Taxila, Takht-i-Bahi, Gandhara, Lahore Fort and Shalimar Gardens.

Published in Dawn, December 17th, 2015

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