ISLAMABAD : Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) Chairman Sayed Zulfikar Abbas Bukhari Sunday said the government had announced a financial assistance package amounting to Rs 1.3 billion to mitigate the sufferings of PTDC’s laid-off workers. “We have offered a handsome golden handshake to the PTDC employees but unfortunately they denied the offer at the behest of union leaders, which discouraged them from accepting the package for their own vested interests,” he told a news conference here. Zulfikar Bukhari, who also holds the portfolio of National Tourism Coordination Board (NTCB) Chairman and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development, said the management had tried to negotiate with the union representatives on the instructions of PTDC Board but they moved the court against the decision. He said the package included three running basic pays for complete length of service, provident fund, arrears of pay and allowances for six months and one-year earned leave. The chairman urged the laid-off workers to accept the offer as it was the biggest golden handshake package in the country’s history. The PTDC had not sacked its employees due to the coronavirus pandemic, he clarified. Zulfikar Bukhari categorically rejected the rumours about the shutting down of PTDC’s operation. The organization had been running in the loss for many years due to its out-dated model of operation, illegal appointments and lackluster approach of the previous governments, he added. He said the decision regarding restructuring of the PTDC was taken by the Federal Cabinet to transform it into a vibrant and profitable organization, and generate multiple jobs through effective promotion of tourism in Pakistan and across the globe. “The restructuring of PTDC is meant to shift its model from an operator to a policy maker and regulator,” he remarked. After the restructuring, the SAPM said, the PTDC would work as an execution arm of the NTCB which was set up by the government with an aim to develop coordination among the federating units. The tourism had been a devolved subject so strong coordination among the provinces was imperative to boost the sector, he added. Zulfikar Bukhari said a top consultant was hired to carry out restructuring of the PTDC, who had helped the organization in formulating the policy in that regard. He said a 10-year road-map (2020-2030) had been prepared to invigorate the tourism industry to ensure maximum utilization of its huge resources for sustained economic growth, poverty alleviation and reduced social inequalities. A 5-year action plan was also being finalized to implement the government’s plan regarding the tourism promotion, he added. He said the government would soon launch ‘Brand Pakistan’ to promote the tourism industry as a customized brand. An e-portal to inform tourists about the hotels’ ratings, weather, traffic and other information had also been prepared. Zulfikar Bukhari said all the initiatives were ready and would be rolled out after the pandemic declined in the country. A Tourism Promotion Endowment Fund with the seed money of Rs 1 billion had also been set up. He said the country would host the World Tourism Forum in 2021, whereas D-8 Summit would also be held in Pakistan in 2022. He said the tourism ministers of D-8 member states had expressed keenness for attending the three-day conference. To a query, he said the government had no intention to sell Roosevelt Hotel of the Pakistan International Airline (PIA) in New York.
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