A recent article published in The Dawn highlighted the potential development of Gwadar as a tourism destination. The author showed that the Southern port had already become a popular destination for Karachi middle class, but the author also argued that Gwadar lacked some basic facilities.
A local tourism destination
Gwadar and the Makran coast have a lot to offer to visitors: wonderful landscapes and beaches to attract thousands of city dwellers from Karachi or even Punjab who want to spend a few days in the southern port.
A limited offer
However, tourism in the city is not diversified enough. There are still few restaurants and few activities visitors can do in the city or on the coast.
But a more important issue is the lack of basic facilities in Gwadar and its surrounding. The road to Gwadar is not an easy one with few petrol stations, wifi spots or even decent restrooms. As result, driving to Gwadar may be a had experience.
Till now, authorities have focused on large infrastructure projects in Gwadar such as the SEZ or the international airport. These large projects are of course important, and Gwadar needs them to become a major regional hub, but Gwadar also needs restrooms and petrol stations, Gwadar needs new places to relax and get entertained.
Of course Gwadar cannot become a new Dubai right away, but attention needs to be given to smaller projects in the city to make it more attractive to visitors, investors and locals. These small projects can make the difference and increase Gwadar’s attractiveness.
Moreover, small projects in the hospitality or in the entertainment sector ( sports, tourism) can be conducted by local people, so Gwadar population will feel more integrated in the development of their city.
Programmes and grants for locals
To achieve this goal and make Gwadar more attractive, the realization of the CPEC in Gwadar should not be limited to large infrastructure projects, locals should be provided with small grants and adequate training to launch their own businesses.
Gwadar can become both a logistics and tourism destination, but this requires more resources to be used for local entrepreneurships so that Gwadar people make their city even more attractive.
A comprehensive tourism strategy needs to be formulated in Gwadar.