A Year that Looked Good for the Revival of Pakistan’s Tourism Industry: A New Business Strategy for The Mad Hatters Amidst the COVID-19 Crisis

The Mad Hatters is an experiential travel company for adventure seekers, risk takers and avid explorers looking for opportunities to get out of the daily grind, and journey into some of the less explored areas of Pakistan for a rich cultural experience. Aneeqa Ali, the woman behind The Mad Hatters shares the effects of COVID-19 on her business and the overall tourism landscape in Pakistan.


How has the current COVID-19 situation affected your business? 


Tourism is one of the worst hit industries globally because of COVID-19. All of our tours scheduled for the next few months had to be called off due to the prevalent circumstances. Many established airlines, hotels and tourism companies are now headed towards bankruptcy. They are actively laying people off to remain afloat in this unpredictable scenario, which basically has no end in sight. Even one of our partner companies in Australia that has operations in 120+ countries worldwide had to make massive redundancies throughout the organization. 


Tourism industry has been affected directly because of this lockdown, but this ripple effect is eventually going to have an impact on everything. People all over the world have basically switched to survival mode, and will not be purchasing anything other than the basic necessities of life for a while now. This means that even if we are somehow able to miraculously find a cure to this pandemic, it is still going to take a very long time for the economy to recover from a worldwide recession. 


What are you doing to keep your operations up and running during these times? 


We have started to work remotely and are focusing all of our energies on coming up with a suitable business strategy for the post COVID-19 world, in order to be able to respond as soon as the market starts to pick up. This year looked promising for the revival of the tourism industry of Pakistan after such a long period of unrest, with a record high number of foreigners visiting the country. The airlines, hotels and tour operators were fully booked for the upcoming blossom tours in the next few months. 


We also thought that The Mad Hatters is all set for this year, with our event calendar locked in with tours booked in advance for the entire 2020 as well as 2021. Nobody in their wildest dreams would have imagined that the world would come to a standstill like this all of a sudden. We are hopeful that we will all bounce back from these tough times, and come out of this turmoil much wiser and stronger. 


Which tools are you using to stay productive and for keeping in touch with your team? 


For video conferencing, we’re using Zoom and for Project Management, we’re using Asana and Google Calendar


What are you doing to stay positive? 


These are really tough times for everyone out there, but maybe we can use this as an opportunity to do some self-reflection; to learn, to grow, to rekindle old passions, to try out new hobbies, to be more empathetic, to mend broken relationships, to be more giving & loving, to seize the day! 


One day we are all going to look back at this event as a defining moment in our lives. Let’s hope it transforms us to become more responsible about our choices, for the greater good of humanity and this planet.


Staying close to your loved ones in this trying time can make things a little easier. There can be some comfort in talking to each other about what is helping you stay positive and optimistic in these dark times; things that you are grateful for; new hobbies that you are experimenting with; any good books that you are reading; old memories or travel experiences that you are craving for; wish-list of things to do once all of this is over; travel destinations that are on your bucket list after we become mobile again, or even your thoughts if you are feeling sad and hopeless because of all of this. 


We believe in the power of community and belonging, it is the only thing that can help us get through this. This too shall pass! It’s darkest before dawn! Wishing and praying for safer and happier times ahead for everyone!


This crisis has shown us that the world will be different once we move past this situation. How will you pivot and what would you do differently in a post-Corona world?


Humans have done some irreparable damage to this planet through their actions, which has led to an alarming increase in climate change, global warming, air pollution, extinction of wildlife, plastic waste ending up in the oceans and what not. These are just a few of the gifts given by mankind to our planet that we call home. 


The COVID-19 outbreak is a warning that the Earth is sending us, reminding us to change our ways, or face more of such devastating consequences in the future. We believe this is Karma; Mother nature’s way of fighting back in order to defend itself from more harm.


Satellite images show the improvement in pollution levels in different parts of the world within just a few weeks without human intervention. Let us learn from our mistakes. We should take this as a lesson to mend our ways and make more responsible choices, in order to have a better future for ourselves and the coming generations.



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