November 24th to 26th, 2017 saw the advent of Pakistan’s largest and first ever Travel Trade Expo, the Pakistan Travel Mart, held at the Expo Centre in Karachi, Pakistan.
In addition to local and regional participation, there was representation from over 10 other countries. Exhibitors from the Travel, Tourism, Aviation and Hospitality industry had stalls and pavilions which attracted a large number of business and aviation related clientele and aviation enthusiasts on the first two days and members of the public on the third and final day.
Each province of Pakistan had their own unique pavilion promoting tourism and culture while displaying souvenir items and clothing which could also be purchased. Hotels, Motels and Guest Houses had several holiday and tour packages on offer along with travel agents who offered the same along with promotional air fares. Malaysia and Thailand both promoted tourism with attractive holiday packages while Marriot Hotel catered the food and drink for the event.
On the aviation front Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), Shaheen Air International and Serene Air represented the Pakistani airlines with the exception of Air Blue which was not present. As would be expected PIA, Shaheen Air International and Serene Air had large pavilions showcasing their products and promoting their respective new services. PIA showcased their new refurbished economy class seats while promoting special fares and extra baggage allowance on their flights while Shaheen (a major sponsor of this entire event) celebrated its 25th Anniversary with a very impressive pavilion inaugurating their new frequent flyer program titled Shine Miles (Shaheen-Shine pun intended) which interestingly offered only 2 tiers of membership Classic and Gold as opposed to the traditional 3 tiers. Shaheen also showed off their new website and online booking system and offered visitors to their pavilion a virtual reality flying experience. Serene Air, a relative newcomer in the local airline industry also received a sizeable number of visitors who were invited to sample its domestic product.
Air China, Qatar Airways, Sri Lankan Airlines, Thai Airways and Turkish Airlines comprised some of the foreign airlines which serve the major cities in Pakistan, each promoting various products and services. Air China promoted its daily flights to and from Islamabad/Karachi with onward connections to the Far East and USA via Beijing. Qatar Airways showcased their new Boeing 787 business class seat. Sri Lankan Airlines and Thai promoted holiday packages to Sri Lanka and Thailand while Turkish Airlines promoted their daily frequencies to and from Pakistan and connecting to their worldwide network.
The main purpose of this event was to maintain and promote the National Image Building of Pakistan while giving a much needed boost to the travel and tourism industry of Pakistan and based on the high attendance and success of this expo, it is hoped that this will become an annual event which will entice greater participation each coming year.
By Moin Abbasi