Coastal tourism has been regarded as the economic driving force of many developing countries in the world. However, in Pakistan, this important role of coastal tourism has hardly been realized. Now, with the launch of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), coastal tourism has become the focus of the country’s socio-economic development. Although coastal tourism is a complex activity involving many sectors, levels, and interests; therefore, its sustainability requires a comprehensive planning framework.
Considering the great value of coastal tourism in the corridor, this study attempts to determine the potential opportunities and challenges for its development in the country. After a semi-structured interview program, the data for this study was collected from 37 coastal tourism stakeholders.
This part of Pakistan is untapped and rich in natural resources, and the pristine beauty along this coast must be rewarded. It also has some strategically important locations, such as Gwadar and Ormara. Due to its commercial and tourist potential and strategic location, Pakistan’s coast can become a major center of economic activity.
The coast of Pakistan is of strategic importance due to the Sea Line of Communication (SLOC) from the Gulf of Aden and the Persian Gulf to Gwadar, Karachi, and other places. This also makes Gwadar an important strategic port for Pakistan and China’s “One Belt One Road” initiative. In addition, Karachi is the only maritime terminal on the east coast of Pakistan that is geographically adjacent to India. For these reasons, Pakistan attaches great importance to the development of strategic infrastructure on the coastline of Pakistan.
The total length of the coastline of Pakistan is approximately 990 to 1046 km whereas in miles it’s 650 mi. Moreover, the coastline of Pakistan starts from Sindh and ends in Balochistan province. However, the major area of the coastline is covered in Balochistan which is around 770 km. Additionally, it has swarmed with a natural gold mine and its potential.
Like many other countries, Pakistan can also benefit from its coastal areas. Our country has 700 miles of sandy beaches and beautiful lakes, all of which can be used for successful tourism. The question is what Pakistan can do to make the country popular coastal tourism industry. In the early 1970s, Pakistan’s tourism industry flourished. Sailing boats decorate the port every day for domestic and foreign tourists to enjoy. The huts and restaurants on the beach are people’s favorite places to hang out. Locations such as Hawke’s Bay, sandpits, and Kamari boating basins and beaches are crowded with families and young people.
At present, the level of pollution that has caused serious damage in Karachi has also severely affected these tourist attractions, turning them into dilapidated and polluted areas. So the first problem that causes such damage is the absolute lack of willingness of the competent authorities. Since no one has given the industry the attention it deserves, the development of the industry has rapidly declined. One reason for the lack of focus is the incomplete autonomy enjoyed by the provinces. In addition, the overlap between many agencies and public sector authorities has increased the red tape to the point where no one bothers to untie it. Therefore, further confusion and lack of determination become the main obstacles to successful planning and implementation.
Another problem that causes underdevelopment in coastal areas is the lack of sufficient funds. As we all know, our economy has been severely beheaded, so weak and volatile that no investors are willing to invest, foreign direct investment cannot be used here, and government reserves cannot bear the burden of developing capital-intensive industries. When the economy is weak, the biggest cuts are in the development sector, especially in the tourism sector. Therefore, since the country has already undertaken the economic burden, even if the policy is successfully formulated, it cannot be implemented.
The current state of coastal tourism is also the result of the general mentality of the general population towards the beach and coastal tourism. Ordinary people believe that tourism activities that have become the norm on world-famous beaches are responsible for destroying the subtle structure of their social and moral values. This mentality poses a huge problem for tourists, whether they are local or foreign tourists because they cannot enjoy these activities freely without being judged. If we want to increase our coastal tourism activities, we must instill values that make tourists feel comfortable.
Other countries in South Asia are issuing policies to promote the development of the maritime sector. For example, India spent US$11.8 billion in the national budget for the maritime sector. Bangladesh has received 240 million U.S. dollars from the World Bank for projects to develop coastal areas and fisheries capacity. In addition, Bangladesh has generated up to $1.567 billion in revenue from coastal tourism alone, and subsequent inspections of its coastline were not as perfect as we have.
This also applies to our neighboring countries. Last year alone, before the pandemic, India was the biggest beneficiary of coastal tourism in Southeast Asia, earning US$21 billion from the US$31.5 billion in revenue generated in South Asia. Another very famous example of coastal tourism is the Maldives. One-third of the country’s economy depends on income from the coastal regions. Therefore, the above facts highlight the industry’s importance to the global economy.
Pakistan Coastline goes through the Arabian Sea like:
The Jiwani Coastal Wetland is a wetland located near Jiwani City, Balochistan, Pakistan. The site is one of 19 Ramsar wetlands in Pakistan and opened in 2001. The site and location are located on the edge of the Jawatil Bay in the Dashte River Delta near the town of Jiwani, Gwadar District, Balochistan. The wetland covers an area of 11,367 acres, extending westward to the Iranian border and adjacent to Iran’s Yovatir Bay. The bay waters are divided into Gawwater Bay and Jovatir Bay. The east side of the coast is called Dran and consists of sandy beaches and rocky cliffs. Close to the Iranian border, the terrain is flat and the marshland is low. The region has a dry climate and little rainfall. The Dashte River is the main source of mangroves and fresh water in the region, as well as the main source of monsoon runoff from nearby hills. Fauna and Flora, Jiwani Coast provides two main ecological habitats; mangroves and beaches.
The place near the delta swamps is covered with one of the three mangrove forests in Pakistan; Aviconia Wharf. Jiwani is also an important nesting site for endangered olive sea turtles and green sea turtles. The four sea turtle nesting beaches gather on the east side of the coast and are one of the most important sea turtle habitats in Pakistan. Every year, thousands of migratory birds are seen in this area. According to statistics, the diversity of birds in the coastal wetlands of Pakistan’s Jiwani has 112 species of birds recorded, including 79 species of migratory birds and 33 species of resident birds. Among 79 migratory species, 54 species migrate in winter, 11 species migrate in summer, 10 species are perennial migrants, and 3 are homeless.
Karachi was built on the coastal plain with scattered rock outcrops, hills, and coastal mudflats. Coastal mangroves grow in the saltwater around Karachi Port, approaching the vast delta of the Indus River to the southeast. To the west of Karachi is Cape Monzi, locally known as Cape Morey, this area is characterized by sea cliffs, rocky sandstone promontories, and undeveloped beaches.
There are two small mountains in Karachi: Kasa Mountain and Muri Mountain. They are located in the northwest and serve as a buffer zone between the northern towns of Nazmabad and Orange City. The arid Karachi Mountains are part of the larger Kirthar Mountains, with a maximum elevation of 528 meters (1,732 feet).
In recent years, Gwadar Port has been listed as one of the most strategic ports in China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative. Gwadar is located at the mouth of the Persian Gulf. Its core values are the Maritime Silk Road and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Both are part of the “One Belt, One Road” initiative and therefore have important strategic significance. This also makes many people speculate that Gwadar is a military base for cooperation with China. However, Gwadar’s main purpose is still a commercial port. The purpose of the naval base in Gwadar is to ensure the safety of high seas ports and potential commercial centers in the area.
PNS Akram is a forward operating base located in Gwadar, the headquarters of the Pakistan Naval West Command (COM WEST), and directly under the Pakistan Naval Coast Command (COMCAST). It includes the naval detachments of Gwadar, Pasini, Jiwani, and Turbat. It also includes the 3rd Marine Battalion responsible for the security of Gwadar Port. It serves as an administrative base, and the operational center of Pakistan’s West Coast Naval Fleet is still Ormara.
Pasini is another port city, located between Ormala and Gwadar. It has a fishing port widely used by local fishermen and a commercial port has been planned. The strategic importance of Passini as an airport can be traced back to the use of Allied forces during World War II. Subsequently, in 1988 a new runway was built at the abandoned airport and a coastal naval air station was opened in the name of PNS Makran. It is Pakistan’s second naval air station after PNS Mehran in Karachi. In 2003, the base was connected to the Markland Coastal Highway, and now the airport is jointly used by the Pakistan Navy, Pakistan Air Force, and Civil Aviation Administration.
Ormara is located about 385 kilometers west and 285 kilometers east of Karachi and Gwadar, respectively. It is a small town in different geographical locations similar to Gwadar, forming a hammer connecting the sandpit with the mainland, providing an ideal location for the deep seaport. Due to the location of the cliff and the hammerhead sharks that provide natural camouflage for the Pakistan Navy Jinnah Naval Base, it has become more strategically advantageous, which was built and opened there in 2000.
To the west of the Mewar River, a 750-kilometer stretch forms the west coast of Pakistan, also known as the Markland Coast. The picturesque Macland Coast remained undeveloped for some time. However, recently, this coastal zone has been opened not only for commercial purposes but also for tourists. This part of Pakistan is untapped and rich in natural resources, and the pristine beauty along this coast must be rewarded. It also has some strategically important locations, such as Gwadar and Omara. Due to its commercial and tourist potential and strategic location, Pakistan’s west coast can become a major center of economic activity.
The distance between Hub and Sonmiani Bay is 24 kilometers, 14.9 miles, or 13 nautical miles
Sonmiani Bay is located in the Arabian Sea in Ras Bela District, Balochistan Province, Pakistan. The travel time from Hub to Sunmiani Bay is 28 minutes. The approximate driving distance between Hub and Sonmiani Bay is 24 kilometers, 14.9 miles, or 13 nautical miles. Travel time refers to the time required for the vehicle to travel that distance.
Sonmiani is the only place on the coast of Pakistan where three types of mangroves are naturally found, namely Avicennia marina, Ceriops tagal, and Rhizophora mucronata. Mangroves are used for firewood, livestock feed, and camel viewing areas. Although the area needs to graze and collect firewood, with the help of the WWF Pakistan branch and local NGOs, various technologies have been developed through community participation to restore the mangrove ecosystem.
However, the local communities with fisheries as their main occupation planted mangroves in large degraded areas, thus playing a role in protecting and preserving mangroves for the young generation in Pakistan in the future. The coastline of Pakistan is 1,050 kilometers long, with a general width of 40-50 kilometers. Pass Sindh (350 km) and Balochistan (700 km).
The Indus Delta is formed where the Indus River merges into the Arabian Sea. It is mainly located in the Sindh province of southern Pakistan, and a small part is located in the Kuch region in the westernmost part of India. The delta covers an area of approximately 41,440 square kilometers, and its intersection with the sea is approximately 210 kilometers wide. The delta activity area covers an area of 6000 square kilometers. The climate is dry, and the rainfall in the area in a normal year is between 25 and 50 cm. The delta has the world’s largest arid mangrove forest, as well as many birds, fish, and Indian pufferfish.
Since the 1940s, due to extensive irrigation projects capturing large amounts of water from the Indus before it reaches the delta, the amount of water available to the delta has decreased. The results are disastrous for the environment and local residents. Therefore, the 2010 floods in Pakistan were considered “good news” for the ecosystems and people of the river delta and brought much-needed freshwater.
In 2003, the population of the active part of the delta was estimated to be approximately 900,000 people. Most of the population lives in agriculture and fisheries. Mangroves provide firewood. Due to the lack of water in the Indus River and the invasion of the Arabian Sea, many ancient settlements in the delta were abandoned.
The Coastal Tourism Potential of Pakistan is huge. Moreover, the coastal line has strategic and economic importance for Pakistan. However, the Balochistan coast is the largest coastal area in Pakistan with huge potential. It is also very important geographically, providing Pakistan with a strategic advantage. Due to some changes in climatic conditions and structural evolution, the coast has experienced soil erosion in Pasni, Kund Hub, Gadani, and Jiwani.
The governments of Sindh and Balochistan need to design some steps, such as a working group monitoring committee to monitor and control soil erosion in the coastal zone to prevent damage. In addition, due to development projects in Gwadar and Pazni, the area may become a maritime hub. In addition, it is necessary today to strengthen our shipbreaking industry to support our already fragile economy. Due to its original and exquisite beauty, the area also has great tourism potential. The government should involve the local community and support public-private partnerships to develop the area.