With a checkered history of efforts at founding, before East Pakistan became Bangladesh, the present Travel Agents Association of Pakistan (“TAAP”) was formed in 1974. Its founding fathers elected an ad-hoc committee comprising of:
- Maj. (R) Mohiuddin Alamgir - Travel express ltd.
- Mr. Amanullah khandwala - Aero Travel
- Mr. M.H Dhala - Travelogue (oak) ltd
- Mr. A.Qadir Khamisani - Khamisani Sons
- Mr. S Ather Hussain - Travel Srvices ltd.
- Mr. Hoshang D. Minwala - Gerry’s Travel Agency Limited
- Mr. Azam Khan - Arkays Travel Limited
- Mr. faruq Rasul Zar - Pak Travel Agency
Major (R) Alamgir , the chairman of the Ad-hoc Committee successfully led the formulation of TAAP’s constitution within the frame work of the Companies Act 1913. The Federal Ministry of Commerce approved the said Memorandum & Articles of Association and issued the requisite license for TAAP to represent travel agents, tour operators and general sales agents in Pakistan.
TAAP was established with the explicit purpose of raising Pakistan’s flag at the world wide fora of travel agents, to further promote air travel among its citizens and to promote tourism in Pakistan by providing convenience to domestic and international tourists. This is unlike the rest of the third world countries, where such trade associations are generally formed as a united front for seeking redressal from the government on grievances and issues faced by the travel and tourism industries.
Meanwhile, Tourism which had been a cell within the Department of Civil Aviation, a section within the Ministry of Railways or a Bureau in the Ministry of Tourism was elevated to the level of a complete division with the Ministry of Tourism, Culture & Sports. Pakistan also became a member of the United Nations’ World Tourism Organisation and enacted three acts: 1) Travel Agencies Act 1976, 2) Tourist Guide Act 1976 and 3) Hotel, Clubs and Restaurants Act 1976.
It was in TAAP that the Tourism department found a ready and active ally and both worked hand-in-glove for the promotion of Pakistan’s tourism in the international markets. TAAP fostered close relations with PTDC and PITHM, such that the late Managing Director of PTDC recalled in 1992 that “here was a private sector asking us what it can do to augment our work”.
TAAP published its first annual report in 1976-77 under the chairmanship of Mr. Ghulam Rabbani Butt, where Mr. Mahmud Ahmad was the Vice Chairman. Mr. Ashraf Liaquat Ali Khan was the Regional Chairman for Sindh and Balochistan while Mr. Shaukat Ali was the Regional Chairman for Punjab and NWFP. At that time, all 43 IATA licensed travel agencies were members of TAAP, with 31 members from Region A while the remaining from Region B.
With the initial resolve to promote Pakistan’s tourism, TAAP is the proud founder of tourism conventions in Pakistan. Such conventions served as coordination exercises between producers and marketing professional. The first of such tourism convention was held in 1980 under the Chairmanship Major (R) Alamgir and was termed as an international and domestic success with airlines and hotels operating in Pakistan participating eagerly in that convention. The second convention was held the following year – in 1982 – when Major Aftab A. Khan was the Chairman of TAAP. The third convention followed in 1983 when Mr. M. Azam Khan was the Chairman.
In that convention, Mr. M. Azam Khan made the Chairman’s Address of Welcome in which he maintained that Tourism enhances the social quality of human life and also serves as a foreign policy tool. He emphasized that the current laws look down upon IATA approved travel agents as mere ticket punchers but should rather be considered as the marketing arm of the tourism industry. He further went on to highlight that Pakistan “is the eastern flank of the Middle East” and on the west of rest of the Asia; thus on the crossroads of west bound and eastbound traffic; and then provided concrete measures to enhance the tourism and hoteling industry in Pakistan at that time.
The speech by Mr. M. Azam Khan reflected the far sightedness and commitment of TAAP to the promotion of tourism in Pakistan.