- RAC accepts expansion in the hospitality sector is the key to success
Interview with Mr. Zahid Iqbal — CEO, Royal’s Adventure Club (Pvt) Ltd
Royal’s Adventure Club (Pvt) Limited is one of the best and pioneer DMCs in Pakistan since 2009. The company is owned by young graduate Zahid Iqbal who himself is a passionate traveler and a mountaineer. Royal’s offers various tour packages for domestic and foreign tourists for different tourist places in Northern Areas of Pakistan like Hunza Valley, Skardu, Swat and Chitral. Not only this company also offers packages for honeymoon couples to spend quality time in the places like Shangrila Resort in Skardu. In winter company promotes winter sports like skiing, ice skating and trekking to the various hill stations like Fairy Meadows and Nanga Parbat Base camp.
PAKISTAN & GULF ECONOMIST had an exclusive conversation with Mr. Zahid Iqbal about tourism in Pakistan. Excerpts of the conversation is as follows:
Hospitality is our pride. We always welcome our guests to Pakistan. Come explore with us the cultural and adventurous destination in a style.
Royal’s Adventure Club has very unique and up-to-the-mark tour facilities, especially for our corporate clients for their annual plans for their sales team and other back office staff. We feel honored that we are successfully managing a series of annual tours of different publicly listed companies including banks and insurance companies. Our major clients are EFU General Insurance Ltd, Dubai Islamic bank, DEMCO, EDOTCO and Pak Qatar Takaful.
At RAC we believe that expansion in the hospitality sector is the key to success. Our team is working hard to explore the opportunities in northern areas of Pakistan in terms of hotels and resorts. Apart from hotels and resorts, the transportation sector plays an important role in tourism in Pakistan. Royal’s Adventure Club (Pvt) Ltd has its own transport for its valuable guests but we believe there is a gap in the availability of vehicles and customer demand specifically in imported luxury vehicles. It’s a great opportunity for investors looking to invest in a project with great ROI. We welcome other companies and individual investors to join hands with us on various projects. Royal’s Adventure Club (Pvt) Ltd also opening its UAE office very soon to accommodate our guests from UAE and other countries of the Middle East who are more interested to explore the majestic valleys of Karakoram and the Himalayas with us.
There are plenty of fascinating places in Pakistan for domestic and foreign tourists, however, the following places and events are fabulous.
Chilam Joshi Festival is one the most vital Kalash festivals. The Kalash Festival of Chilam Joshi is also known as the Kalash spring festival. The Kalash people celebrate this four-day festival across all three Kalash valleys of Rumbur, Bumburet and Birir. A large number of domestic and foreign tourists attend the Chilam Joshi festival every year. Chilam Joshi begins with ‘Milk Day. Ten days prior to the festival, The Kalasha people store milk in their households. On the day of the festival, the people of Kalash offer their libation. The festival reflects their unique cultural richness, the harmony in their society and the message of peace to the world. They ask for blessing from God and pray for a prosperous year of agriculture and the health and safety of their herds.
The main objective behind the Kalash festival of Chilam Joshi is that Kalasha men and women can find themselves a spouse to get married. The women wear traditional attire with lively colors and hairdressing has patterns of flowers on it. They wear beaded necklaces that compliment their dresses and headgear. Men wear traditional Shalwar Kameez with a waistcoat made of wool. They dance together and sing in a circle on drum beats. Every year this festival brings a smile to the bachelors and spinsters of Kalash Valley tribes as it gives them an opportunity to choose their life partners and announce their names on the last day of the festival.
The Cholistan Desert Jeep Rally started back in 2005. The event portrays a softer and more positive image of Pakistan abroad. The rally covers three districts of Punjab including Rahim Yar Khan, Bahawalnagar and Bahawalpur. The prime objective to hold this event in the majestic desert of Cholistan is to show the outside world its history and rich culture and open this area as Winter Tourist Destination.
Chitral is one of the main tourist points in the Northern areas of Pakistan. It lies in the Hindukush mountain region and borders Afghanistan’s Wakhan region. My passion for Polo will be the highest on the world’s highest Polo ground. Every year, Shandur (3,734 meters) invites visitors to experience a traditional polo tournament between the teams of Chitral and Gilgit from the 7th to the 9th of July. The festival also includes folk music, folk dance, and traditional sports and a camping village is set up on the Pass. The version of the game played at Shandur Top has attained legendary status.
Neelum Valley or the district is the main tourist attraction of the Azad Kashmir region in Pakistan. Neelum Valley is also a border between Jammu Kashmir (Indian Occupied Kashmir). The main villages in the valley are Keran, Upper Neelum, Sharda, Kel and Taobat. Neelum valley is famous for its lakes one of the biggest lakes in the valley is Ratti Gali Lake accessible by jeep from Keran in Summer only. Neelum river which comes from Jammu Kashmir offers beautiful views of the valley which later on merges with the Jhelum river at Muzaffarabad (The capital of Azad Kashmir). People of Neelum speak the Kashmiri language or Hindko Language. They are the most hospitable people in the region of Azad Kashmir. There are many hotels and resorts in Neelum Valley. According to the current situation, foreigners are not allowed to enter in Neelum district due to disputed land between India and Pakistan. Few parts of the valley are accessible all year but the main attractions are only accessible in the summers.
Fairy Meadow is a lush green meadow at the base of the world’s 9th highest mountain “Nanga Parbat”. Fairy meadow lies in District Diamir in Gilgit Baltistan. The meadow is accessible only by trekking from Tatoo a village near Chilas. Fairy Meadow is accessible only in the summer for tourists. There are many camping sites and wooden cabins available for rent for night stays. You need to hire a local guide from Chilas or Gilgit to plan a Fairy Meadow trip.
Deosai National Park is one of the highest national parks in the world. This 2.3 kilometers-long and 1.8 kilometers wide grassy plain give a beautiful view of the surrounding Himalayan mountains and lakes in it.
Royal’s Adventure Club arrange the most luxurious SUVs from Skardu for its customer for the jeep safari in Deosai National Park. Upon reaching Deosai top from Skardu in one hour drive you can feel how the environment is clean at the top of the National Park at 4400 meters. We make two stops at Bara Pani and Kala Pani rivers for some photography and a tea break.
Skardu Valley or the district is also a part of the Gilgit Baltistan province in Pakistan. Skardu is one of the major destinations for tourists in the region. The Famous Shangrila resort is also in Skardu. There are many lakes, beautiful valleys and rivers in this area. Skardu is also famous as the starting point for expeditions to K2 Mountain. Shigar and Khaplu are further two attractions in this area where you can go to explore the spectacular landscape and witness the valleys of the rich culture of the Balti people. Deosai National Park Manthoka waterfall and Khamush waterfall are the go-to places in this region.
Hunza Valley is a district in Pakistan’s northern area in the Gilgit Baltistan region. This is the last district bordering China’s Xinjiang province. This rich cultural valley is famous for tourism in Pakistan. High-altitude peaks, lakes and valleys are the attractions of this area. Hunza Valley lies in the Karakoram range considered one of the biggest mountain ranges in the world. The people of Hunza Valley speak the Brushiski language and are famous for hospitality. Valley is connected through a beautiful 1300KM long Karakoram Highway.
Khunjrab National Park is one of the highest national parks in the world also considered the highest crossing point between two countries. Khunjrab is Hunza’s highest destination 17000 feet and it is reachable by any car or motorcycle through Karakoram Highway. 60 KM travel from Sost to Khunjrab border between Pakistan and China provides spectacular views while traveling on the Karakoram highway. The border between Pakistan and China is open between April to November every year.
Pakistan is home to 108 peaks above 7,000 meters and probably as many peaks above 6,000 meters. There is no count of the peaks above 5,000 and 4,000 meters. Five of the 14 highest independent peaks in the world are in Pakistan (four of which lie in the surroundings of Concordia; the confluence of Baltoro Glacier and Godwin Austen Glacier).