“There is no history of attacks on tourists in Sindh, but that factor is not neglected”, Syed Mohsin Ali Shah, CE/Managing Director Sindh Tourism Development Corporation.
Synergyzer: Please give some brief details of your career.
Syed Mohsin Ali Shah: Before joining the Sindh Tourism Development Corporation (STDC), I was serving the Law Department as Additional Secretary, and before that, worked with the Sindh Board of Investment as Director Marketing.
Synergyzer: Please provide an overview of the tourism industry.
Mr. Shah: Tourism has so far not been treated as an industry. This can be gauged from the number of families going for trips in a year. Inbound tourists – those coming into the country – are negligible for a number of reasons; from lack of security to inappropriate facilities for tourists. In my view, local tourism has potential to improve.
Synergyzer: What is the role of STDC?
Mr. Shah: After devolution of the tourism ministry under the 18th Amendment, due to which the tourism sector was put under governance of provincial governments; a number of new projects were initiated to increase tourism. For instance, a hotel is about to be completed at Nagarparkar and another one at Gadhi Khuda Bux, Larkana. The Sambara Inn hotel at Larkana has been refurbished. Another such tourist facility is under construction at Hawksbay.
Besides these, a Karachi City Tour service has recently started which will take intending tourists to places of interest at affordable rates. Tours to other tourist sites at Thar, Larkana, Sukkur etc. will also be organized.
Synergyzer: In Karachi, the number of hotels has not increased since a very long time. Why do you think this is the case?
Mr. Shah: The hotels are constructed on the basis of need. The moment the number of tourists shall increase there will be new hotels.
Synergyzer: Gorakh Hills has gained a lot of popularity amongst explorers and trekkers as a tourist destination in Sindh. What are your views on it as a tourist destination?
Mr. Shah: Gorakh hills are located in the Kirthar mountain range in Sindh at the altitude of 6000 feet above sea level. These hills are famous for their scenic beauty and low temperatures, which rises to only 17oC during peak summer season. Besides this, visiting Gorakh Hills costs much less for Karachites versus visiting Murree Hills.
Synergyzer: What are your views on the promotion of Northern destinations in Karachi or the rest of Sindh?
Mr. Shah: The coordination factor is lacking amongst tourism ministries of different provinces, due to which a proper infrastructure linking one to the other has not been able to develop fully, especially in the case of Sindh and Northern provinces. If synergies are developed then North-bound tourism has a very high potential of increasing.
Synergyzer: How does STDC mitigate security risks and concerns to areas with ongoing tourism?
Mr. Shah: There is no history of attacks on tourists in Sindh, but that factor is not neglected.
Synergyzer: How are tour agencies regulated?
Mr. Shah: The Directorate of Tourism Services issues licenses to them. Any tour operator can be checked from there if he is a registered one or not.