Islamabad, Pakistan: The tourism industry of Pakistan witnessed how brutally the catalyst organization of industry; Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) was managed during the PTI era but things are yet not normal for PTDC as some of the PTI-appointed officials sitting in the top management of PTDC are still playing havoc with PTDC and its former employees.
Despite clear instruction from the National Assembly of Pakistan not to hand over PTDC motels to provinces without resolving the long-standing issue of 272 employees of PTDC Motels, PTDC management while flouting the instructions of the Special Committee of effectees/ employees of the National Assembly, is going to lease out Gilgit Baltistan properties along with Flashman’s Hotel. The Committee has issued instructions not to lease out any PTDC property but PTDC has called a Board of directors meeting on 11th January 2023 to lease out Gilgit Baltistan properties along with Flashman’s Hotel.
It may be remembered that at the beginning of the tourism season of the year 2020, the Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) announced to shut down Motels in northern areas and the termination of the services of its employees, prompting many to raise eyebrows over the PTI’s intention to promote the tourism industry and additionally when it would also spark further unemployment.
In May 2022, The former employees of Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) and its subsidiary PTDC Motels demanded the Chairman NAB probe into the corruption that allegedly took place in PTDC during the previous government of former Prime Minister Imran Khan. However, no action was taken by the NAB and no inquiry was instructed to probe alleged large-scale corruption, misappropriation, and flouting of rules. Former employees are of the view that NAB must probe into the closure of Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation’s 39 establishments including 23 motels that were closed down in 2019, causing a huge loss to the public exchequer and joblessness to over 250 skilled employees.
PTDC closed accommodations under the pretext that motels were causing losses and PTDC had to be restructured. The justification given by the then Chairman PTDC Zulfi Bukhari that motels were in losses was contrary to fact and only Naran PTDC motel was giving 10 million taxes to the public exchequer annually and one can calculate the total amount that a single accommodation was earning. According to former staff of PTDC Naran, the earnings of the accommodation were over 20 million. One can understand the total earnings of 39 accommodations if only one accommodation was earning over 20 million. However, accommodations were completely shut down in the winter of 2019.
PTDC lost earnings in the public exchequer in the tourism seasons of 2020, 2021, and 2022 as motels remained closed.
PTI government claimed that due to continuous financial losses having no other resources and the Covid-19 pandemic, the federal government and PTDC Board of Directors unanimously resolved to close down the operations of the company. However, the facts were otherwise and the PTI government wanted to lease motels among their friends and wanted completely close down the PTDC Motel subsidiary of the Corporation. However, it was not so simple to sell these motels because motels were constructed by procuring the land in most of the area under section 4 and section 5 of the Land Acquisition Act under which the land was acquired from landowners as it was needed for a public purpose or for a Company.
Former PTDC employees claim that shutting down PTDC motels had ulterior motives therefore they went to Peshawar High Court against the closure of the motels. They claimed that the dark era of PTDC started from the very day Azam Khan (whose name appeared in news headlines about so-called regime change and US cipher fiasco) took over the charge of Principal Secretary of the then Prime Minister Imran Khan because he had a personal vendetta with PTDC staff. They claimed that Azam Khan was Secretary Tourism KPK before assuming the charge of Principal Secretary of the Prime Minister and he tried to occupy PTDC motels in KPK by force using the 18th amendment blanket but PTDC employees resisted forcefully occupation of motels so when he became Principal Secretary of Prime Minister he used all powers to shut down motels and ruin the PTDC. Former employees said that former Prime Minister Imran Khan had been claiming that he wanted to promote tourism in Pakistan but things were otherwise and tourism faced total collapse under his government due to several reasons including the closure of PTDC motels situated at prime tourism destinations, providing safe accommodation to foreigners and domestic tourists families.
Giving details about their claim, they said that PTDC closure notification was a bundle of lies and that the decision was taken following an “in-depth analysis of the present situation and consideration of the facts and circumstances in the company and in the best interest of the employees, company, and shareholders for survival and future viability. They said all justifications for closure were contrary to fact.
Half a century old and established on March 30, 1970, PTDC motels seized operations and have not been available to tourists since 2019. It may be mentioned that PTDC Motels had been the first choice of families in Pakistan for their domestic tourism accommodation due to its repute and decent security as being part of the government of Pakistan-owned accommodations.