Thursday July 18, 2024

Amid e-booking boom, tourism industry seen surging in 2 years

By Bilal Hussain
February 20, 2022

KARACHI: Komail Naqvi, founder and CEO of FindMyAdventure, a Pakistan-based tourism marketplace digital startup, recently acquired by a foreign online travel agency GoZayaan, says Pakistan’s tourism industry is estimated to increase from current $9 billion to $13 billion by the year 2024.

“Country’ travel and tourism industry is moving towards exponential growth,” Naqvi said in an exclusive talk with The News.

Naqvi has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of the growing travel and tourism industry in Pakistan as his company has found an international partner GoZayaan to further grow their business.

GoZayaan has invested $3.5 million to expand the scope of the operations from Pakistan to regional countries. It is a South Asian online travel agency, currently focused on Bangladesh.

“We have recently closed a M&A (merger and acquisition) deal with another South Asian OTA (online travel agency) GoZayaan,” said Naqvi, who is now Country Managing Director of the new partnership in Pakistan, adding, “The deal is backed by some big venture capitalists and top executives from Priceline and Airbnb”. “The acquiring amount has not been disclosed on investors’ request; however, GoZayaan may invest more than $3.5 million to expand operations in and through Pakistan.”

The deal is backed by GoZayaan’s existing investors, Nordstar Partners, DST Global Partner Fund, and Alexander Rittweger. Last year, GoZayaan closed it's $2.6 million seed round which was led by Wavemaker Partners and joined by SEA-focused venture capitalists namely Ratio Venture, 1982 Ventures, Iterative, Century Oak Capital along with current and former Airbnb Execs.

One of the core reasons for this acquisition is the similarity between Bangladesh and Pakistan in terms of geography, user behavior, internet penetration, and digital travel booking.

“With the investment, the operations would further be scaled from Pakistan to regional countries,” Naqvi told The News.

This whole thing is Naqvi’s brainchild, who used to lead his university’s official tours. Naqvi and four of his fellows from Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) – Husnain Habib Malik, Khawaja Raza Abbas, Shozab Naqvi and Syed Haider Raza, initially thought starting their own tour operating firm in 2016, but they realised it soon enough that it was not a scalable business on its own.

They concurred to establish a digital marketplace for tour operators and tourists to give the latter more options to choose from destinations as well as operators. Eventually, FindMyAdventure was established as Pakistan’s tourism market-place, which connects vendors and tour operators with tourists.

The company has previously also attracted capital from foreign investors as well as the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

According to the company, it has more than 700,000 monthly active users and 40 percent repeat customers. It has generated ten-fold growth in 12 months, despite the pandemic.

Naqvi has worked for a Multinational Bank in Pakistan for a year before deciding to attempt with his friends to take a shot at a startup out of their passion for travelling.

“But passion is not the only ingredient to launch a startup that eventually becomes successful. You need to have patience, determination and a will to dedicate your life to the idea you started to work on,” Naqvi said.