islamabad - The capital’s hospitality industry‘s growth has been moving at a snail’s pace since 2015 despite massive increase in population and significant improvement in the country’s overall security situation.

   The imposition of specific taxes, involvement of huge investment due to hike in commercial property’s tax and CDA’s crackdown against those facilities established in the residential areas, are seemingly major reasons for the sluggishness of this industry.

   An official from Disaster Management Authority (DMA), requesting anonymity said that the business of restaurants and hotels in Islamabad was booming up-till 2015 as some 710 hotels were established since Islamabad’s inception as capital of the country. In 2016, some thirty five more facilities were introduced taking the number to 745, he added.

He said now there were 800 registered hotels in Islamabad among them 61 are foreign-brand restaurants, making impressive contribution to the economy. He said these were still insufficient for a population of some 1,014,825 in urban areas. Najam saqib, running Baba hotel at Aabpara for the last 17 years said it was a tough task to run a hotel or restaurant as it bore much higher expenses including shop’s rent, heavy utility bills, quality chefs and staff.

“A few years ago, majority of the settlers especially from Murree entered this industry but now they are leaving this business and are looking for some other viable options”, he added. He informed that just two or three new restaurants have opened up in this area in the last two years “which shows the business is no more attractive to be taken afresh.”

“There are no incentives offered for the hotel industry like interest-free loan, exemption of taxes for certain period and availability of land at affordable rates.” A manager of one of the capital’s most popular hotel while requesting anonymity said due to unauthorized marriage halls and marquees their business was badly affected and events and conferences were now their source of major earnings. He demanded for competitive environment to ensure more investment in the sector and some specific incentives to help this industry contribute to national economy.