Pakistan has enormous potential for maritime tourism which is yet to be explored. The idea of cruising through the emerald blue sea with our loved ones, far from the hustle-bustle of this world, on a magnificent ship, is present on the bucket list of many. Unfortunately for us, such a dream seems to be far-fetched. Nevertheless, as time is changing so is the possibility for tourism in our homeland.
Maritime Tourism in Pakistan
Maritime tourism refers to all maritime events, such as boating, cruises, fishing, and water sport.
Forbes Magazine has ranked Pakistan among the “Coolest Places to be Visited in 2019”Forbes International Magazine
This speaks a lot about our country’s image. Pakistan is no longer a place of terrorism, corruption, or war. Now people are truly witnessing the tourism potential of our country as it is, the land of pure.
The taste of any cuisine depends upon the quality of the ingredients used to make it. Similarly, the potential of tourism depends upon quality tourist spots. Our motherland is not short of natural habitats and environments which tend to attract tourists, strategically something necessary for our tourism industry to further grow.
The beauty of northern areas is unparalleled in the world but that is not all our country has to offer. Pakistan has a stunning coastline along the Arabian Sea, filled with divinely-gifted marvels like beaches, bays, headlands, and cliffs. These features are considered to be a complete package for tourists
Tourism Regions Along Pakistan’s Coastline
The main potential area is the coastline of Pakistan. It extends to more than one thousand kilometers along the Arabian sea. It is divided between two provinces, Sindh and Baluchistan, most of it is present in the latter. In the diverse areas of Pasni, Miani Hor, and Jiwani, from shifting sand dunes to migratory birds, many wonders of nature can be seen.
The heavenly island of Astola seems to be out of this world. The extraordinary seabed is visible at 20 feet depth and is home to exotic sea life such as the endangered turtle, multi-colored fish, and coral. These are just some of the unexplored gems in our land, our land is filled with unique natural magnificence.
The First Marine Protected Area of Pakistan
Regions such as Astola are away from the mainland population, these landscapes are safe from the ignorance of locals. The Balochistan government declared it as the first marine protected area of the country. Karachi being the economic backbone of our land has what it takes to be the next big maritime hub of the world.
In fact, in the 70s there used to be sailing regattas, the beaches of Clifton and kemari were clean and Hawkes bay used to be the main attraction for tourists. It still is a diamond in the rough. There is an opportunity for the developing industry of cruise ships to connect to the gulf countries. This however is just one precedent.
Maritime Tourism in North
The potential of the north is underrated. The north has an equivalent potential to contribute to this specific segment of tourism as any other area. The sport of Kayaking and Rafting are getting popular in the world, our rivers and glaciers located in the north are perfect for it. The main rivers where such sports are held are Indus, Ravi, and Chenab. Mindful effort in the development of these areas can lead to immense growth and Pakistan can benefit from the gifts bestowed by nature.
Maritime Tourism and CPEC in Pakistan
China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will also give our tourism the push it needs. A high amount of budget has been allocated to the development of infrastructure. This includes roads, essential for the movement of construction machinery to faraway areas of Baluchistan and Sindh in order to develop tourist spots. By analytical prediction, the port of Gwadar will be able to provide opportunities for the development of Pakistan’s sea-based tourism. With the construction of the largest shipyard of Pakistan in Gwadar and world-class deep-sea ports, the future of maritime tourism seems bright.
The new trade routes that are going to establish on the Indian Ocean can be the start of the cruise ship industry. The cruise brings golden opportunities for maritime. The two leading industries in terms of employment, revenue, and research are aviation and maritime. Just like the economy of Maldives relies heavily on maritime tourism, comprising nearly 28 percent of the country’s GDP. Our country too could tap into such potential.
Pakistan’s Maritime Tourism Ranking
According to the Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index (2019), Pakistan holds 121 positions.
This is even below Bangladesh, out of a total of 140 countries in the world. However, the statistics might be disappointing but on the flip side, we have room for growth.
We have several official departments that are working on the revival of tourism in the country. The National Tourism Coordination Board NTCB oversees the development in this area. To jump-start, maritime tourism NTCB must come up with a sustainable strategy. Also, the revision of existing maritime policies and frameworks is a prime need. Our country requires a comprehensive plan for this industry to flourish.
We are a struggling country in the maritime sector at this point in time. Our GDP needs a lifeline to sustain. If such resources remain unused, our country’s progress will halt. National Institute of Maritime Affairs (NIMA) is also a vital organization working to develop the maritime industry in our country. It is solely dedicated to research and policymaking. Sea tourism contributes 2.7 percent of Pakistan’s GDP. This is meager as compared to the contribution of other sectors.
Impacts of Tourism on Inflation
The high inflation rate in our country is also hampering the growth of maritime tourism. Tourism is not something that only the rich should be able to enjoy. It certainly is not reserved for foreign tourists that visit the country. The local people are majority contributors. As things become less affordable such activities will only be enjoyed by the elites.
The government should make it easy and accessible for people belonging to all socio-economic classes. Only then true success can be achieved. In order to boost the country’s blue economy, the private sector with tax exemption can be encouraged to invest in the maritime tourism sector.
Role of Media in Uplifting Pakistan’s Maritime Tourism
Media can play a vital role in publicizing and promoting tourism in such areas. Sadly, not much is done by the mainstream media. However, social media is being used to market these wonders. An example is, through the platform of YouTube, the coastal jewels of Pakistan were brought to light.
A handful of local social media content creators such as Taimoor Salahuddin aka Mooro and Junejo(and many others) and some foreigners like Eva Zu beck have done for this country. These platforms can play a pivotal role in the revival of tourism in Pakistan.
It would not be wrong to say that the maritime industry is one of the fastest-growing industries on our planet. With Pakistan’s landscape, we have immense potential to grow.
Only planning, the right investments, and the genuine intention of people are needed. The day is not far when Pakistan would be hailed as the number one go-to spot for maritime tourism.