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13 October, 2019 01:21:06 AM

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Tourism holds bright prospects

SHARIF AHMED, Dhaka
Tourism holds bright prospects

Tourism has become one of the largest and fastest growing economic sectors in the world over the past few years. Bangladesh, being located in the connecting point of South and South East Asian countries, has the potential to become a leader in the sector with a land full of natural beauty.

According to a recent study of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), one in five jobs created globally over the last five years is attributable to travel and tourism.

With the travel and tourism sector contributing 3.9 per cent of the total employment in Bangladesh in 2018, it has a bright prospect both at home and abroad.

As many as 2,414,400 jobs were created in Bangladesh in this sector in 2018.

It is expected to reach 3,155,300 by 2019, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) report.

The report is good news for the Bangladeshi market, but it said it will depend on sustainable development of this sector, the industry insider said.

The number of foreign tourists will increase within a couple of years, if Bangladesh can improve infrastructure services and has an adequate marketing policy, say industry experts. They have also urged initiatives to overcome these obstacles.   

Tanvir Hasan, head of marketing, The Palace Luxury Resort, said: “There are some quality resorts in our country and more are coming up and this involves huge investment. There is a huge possibility in this sector in the next five to 10 years.”

Bangladesh has the longest unbroken sandy sea beach (Cox's Bazar) and the biggest mangrove area (Sundarbans) in the world. The country has bountiful resources to offer to both local and foreign travelers with its scenic beauty, ethnic diversity, unique cuisine, rich heritage and historical sites, profound religious sentiments and much more.

 According to tour operators and hotel and motel owners, around 60 per cent of the domestic travellers visit Cox’s Bazar. The rest usually visit Chattogram, Sylhet, the Sunderbans, and tourist destinations in north and south Bengal.

Shiblul Azam Koreshi, director of the Tour Operators' Association of Bangladesh (TOAB), said it was important to focus on measures that would stabilise the sector and ensure growth. He added he was confident that the industry would keep expanding.

Masud Hossain, managing director of Bengal Tours, told The Independent: “My personal information is that around 65 to 70 lakh tourists move across the country every year. The number could be more, but not less.”

Besides travelling inside the country, Bangladeshis are now going abroad. Around 150 tourism service providers, comprising 50 foreign exhibitors from eight Asian countries such as Bangladesh, China, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Indonesia, Philippines, and Thailand participated in the fair.

A three-day Asian tourism fair 2019 (September 26-28) which got off to a flying start at the city’s International Convention City Bashundhara (ICCB) ended as travel enthusiasts rushed to book tickets to avail discounts offered by local airlines.

The fair premises buzzed with activities from the very beginning. Rajibul Hasan, head of marketing of Seagull Hotel, said, “We’re offering a special discount in our regular package titled ‘Autumn Package’. We’ve offered an additional 5 per cent discount on this package only for this fair.”

 Talking to The Independent at the fair premises, Eso Lorry, marketing officer, tourism authority of Thailand, said: “Our country has a lot of variety. If you travel to the south, you will come across different things such as scenic views, nature, cultures, historical places and beautiful beaches.”

He added: “Moreover, Thai food, and shopping attract tourists.”

However, the number of foreign tourists coming to Bangladesh is small compared to the number of Bangladeshi outbound tourists. According to the Bangladesh Tourism Board (BTB), only 2,67,000 foreign tourists have come to Bangladesh in 2018.

Expressing his views on foreign tourists, Dr Bhubon Chandra Biswas, chief executive officer of Bangladesh Tourism Board (BTB), said: “Inadequate infrastructure facilities, low-quality food, expensive hotels, and poor marketing policy are the prime reasons behind the small number of foreign tourists.”

Comprehensive development is needed to lure foreign tourists and for this coordinated efforts are required, added Biswas.  

Various airlines, tourism companies, hotels and resorts offered discounts at the fair. There were various packages for Hajj celebrations and other packages including medical tours.

National flag carrier Biman Bangladesh offered discounts on four domestic and five international routes at the fair.

“We offered 20 per cent discount on five international destinations—Singapore, Delhi, Bangkok, Kathmandu, and Kolkata, as well as 10 per cent on four domestic routes—Cox’s Bazar, Syedpur, Rajshahi, and Barisal,” said Tabibur Rahman, revenue operations analyst, at Biman Bangladesh.

Mostafizur Rahman, accounts supervisor of Biman, said they offered 20 per cent cash discount on air tickets for Kathmandu, Bangkok, Singapore, Delhi and Kolkata. In addition, a five per cent discount was given to various destinations within the country.

 Tourism Pavilion named ‘Discover Bangladesh’ offered medical tourism. Mahmudul Hassan, managing director of the company, said a three-night package was offered at Bangkok's famous Bamrungrad Hospital for treatment. This includes food and sightseeing, he said.  

The package is priced at Tk 52,400 and Tk 54,800.

Various packages were also offered for domestic travel, including the Sundarbans, Sajek and Sylhet. Tour operators from Nepal, Bhutan, China, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, and India offered various packages.

Hotels also offered various facilities, including plane tickets.

 Around 150 tourism service providers, comprising 50 foreign exhibitors, from eight Asian countries participated in the fair.

The fair was organised by travel magazine Parjatan Bichitra, in association with the ministry of civil aviation and tourism, BIMSTEC secretariat, Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation (BPC), and Bangladesh Tourism Board.

The prime objective of the fair was to connect the local tourism industry with the regional tourism hubs for sustainability and growth.

Sayek Hamid and his wife came from Nawabpur Road to book a hotel package in Cox’s Bazar. Talking to The Independent, he said, “I came to the fair for the first time with my wife. We are looking for cheaper honeymoon packages.”

The contribution of the tourism sector to the country’s GDP was 4.4 per cent. It offered 3.8 per cent of the total employment and accounted for 1.5 per cent of the total investment in 2013.

Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation (BPC) looks after the tourism sector in Bangladesh under the ministry of civil aviation and tourism.

Tourism can be classified in a number of ways based on the nature of activity, location type or duration of stay such as heritage tourism, cultural tourism, historical tourism, geo-tourism, adventure tourism, eco-tourism, agro-tourism.

A coordinated effort is needed to take up a leading position in the tourism industry as the sector is a composite of activities and services that deliver transportation, accommodation, food, shopping, entertainment and hospitality services available for the travelers, experts said.

All these activities can enhance the economic development process by creating jobs, developing infrastructure and entrepreneurial skills, improving balance of payments, earning foreign exchanges and export revenues, they added.  

EA

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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