ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Minister for Maritime Affairs Ali Haider Zaidi urged Hajj and Umrah tour operators on Sunday to make use of the “great opportunity” provided by the government by investing in ferry services and “designing” packages for intending pilgrims traveling to Saudi Arabia.
“Registered tour operators in the country can design & market Hajj/Umrah/Ziarat packages,” Zaidi said in a Twitter post on Sunday, sharing a handout by the Pakistan National Shipping Corporation (PNSC).
A great opportunity for all interested in setting up a Ferry Services in Pakistan.
Investors bring in the vessels. @PnscOffical provides managment/manning services.
Registered tour operators in the country can design & market Hajj/Umrah/Ziarat packages.
A win win for all! pic.twitter.com/mcWWBlam22
— Ali Haider Zaidi (@AliHZaidiPTI) June 27, 2021
Most Pakistani pilgrims travel by plane to Makkah, Saudi Arabia, to perform Umrah or the annual Hajj pilgrimage.
Zaidi, however, said that by launching a ferry service to the Kingdom, tour operators would be able to provide an alternate mode of transport.
He added that the maritime ministry, in collaboration with the PNSC and the Karachi Port Trust (KPT), was working toward “realizing the potential of Pakistan’s Blue Economy” by promoting business opportunities in the areas of maritime tourism, coastal development, and passenger and cargo ferry services.
“Pakistan holds immense potential for the operation of ferry services from, to and within the country,” the PNSC said in a statement, basing it on the country’s 220 million population and “growing needs for regional and international connectivity.”
“PNSC may extend its expertise in manning, militating, technical operations...and agency services thereby facilitating the investors/operators toward success in their ventures,” it added.
Hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis visited Saudi Arabia every year, mainly for Umrah and Hajj, before the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Kingdom is also home to over 2.5 million Pakistanis, while Saudi Arabia and the UAE remained top contributors to Pakistan’s highest ever remittance inflow in April.