Prospects and constraints of seaside tourism (part-1)

Tourism industry with its concrete and reckoned growing trading opportunities has emerged as one of the fundamental pillars of the economic progress of Bangladesh. According to the statistics of the United Nation World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), international tourist arrivals reached a new record figure of 1.2 billion in 2015, which was only 25 million in 1950. The importance of the tourism industry can further be understood based on recent data available from the World Travel & Tourism Council. Tourism’s total contribution in the global economy in 2015 was 7.2 trillion USD which equates to 9.8% of total global GDP. Tourism sector supported 284 million jobs in 2015 which is equal to 1 in every 11 jobs in the world. This industry also generated 1.5 trillion USD in exports sector in 2015 which was 6% of the world’s exports. Moreover, international tourism is ranked as the 4th largest industry in the world after fuels, chemicals and automotive products. It is also worth noting that international tourist arrival is forecast to reach 1.8 billion by 2030. Furthermore, the tourism sector outperformed several other major economic sectors in 2015, including manufacturing and retailing. At a country level, direct travel & tourism GDP growth outpaced economy-wide GDP growth in 127 of the 184 countries in the globe covered by the annual Economic Impact Research in 2015. Examples of economies where travel & tourism most markedly outperformed the wider economy in 2015 included Iceland, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, and Uganda.The breadth of international tourism also has greatly expanded in recent years encompassing the developing world. In 1950, just 15 destinations (primarily European) accounted for 98% of all international arrivals. By 2015 that figure had fallen to 54%. Tourism as an additional instrument to speed up the development process has received considerable attention in the developing countries. The most significant economic feature of tourism industry is that it contributes to three high priority goals of the developing countries: The generation of income, employment and foreign exchange earnings. Foreign exchange earnings from tourism can be used to import capital goods to produce goods and services, which in turn lead to economic growth. In addition, the income received from tourism when used for the development of infrastructural facilities, can further promote tourism and economic growth. Tourism also contributes to the alleviation of poverty in developing countries by creating jobs for the marginal and disadvantaged groups, providing adequate training in management skills and technology to the local people and by increasing incomes in rural and local economies. It is also worth mentioning that although often underestimated, the tourism industry can also help promote peace and stability in developing countries by providing jobs, generating income, diversifying the economy, protecting the environment and promoting cross-cultural awareness.
Seaside or coastal tourism is a common type of tourism which is based on a unique resource combination at the interface of land and sea offering amenities such as water, beaches, scenic beauty, rich terrestrial and marine biodiversity, diversified cultural and historic heritage, healthy food and usually good infrastructure. It includes a diversity of activities that take place in both coastal zones and coastal waters, which not only covers beach-based tourism and recreation activities (For example, swimming and sunbathing and other activities for which the proximity of the sea is an advantage, such as coastal walks and wildlife watching) but also involves the development of tourism capacities like hotels, resorts, restaurants, etc. and support infrastructure such as ports, fishing and diving shops and other facilities.
Although the origins of tourism in coastal areas go back to Roman times (when the first villas were constructed in the Southern part of the Apennine Peninsula), the growth of tourism in coastal areas has reached its peak in the recent decades. The economic significance of seaside tourism is also unquestionable. Different case studies reveal that the seaside tourism in several areas of the world is increasingly growing in importance with regard to its magnitude and contribution to national economies as well as to the wellbeing of local communities. It is worth mentioning that seaside tourism is generally considered to be one of the fastest growing forms of tourism in recent decades. Here again, UNWTO statistics show that 12 of the 15 world’s top destination countries in 2015 were countries with coastlines. For example, beach-based tourism in USA generated around 85% of tourist related revenues in the last few years. Another significant example is the Mediterranean Basin. A recent plan blue statistics show that Mediterranean coastal areas alone hosted around 290 million visitors in 2015 and it is predicted to reach 637 million by 2025.

Bangladesh is a small emerging country in South Asia which is blessed with fascinating beauties of nature and it provokes many travellers from abroad to undertake a journey to this land. Bangladesh has the world’s longest 125 km unbroken sandy sea beach sloping here down to the blue water of the Bay of Bengal in Cox’s Bazar and Kuakata. A major part of this coastline is marshy jungle, the Sundarbans, the largest mangrove forest in the world and home to diverse flora and fauna including the Royal Bengal Tiger. In addition to that, there are other beaches like St. Martin’s Island (one of the most beautiful coral island in the world) and Patenga beach (a popular tourist destination near the mouth of Karnaphuli River having boating, fishing and river cruising facilities) which are also attractive to foreign as well as local tourists. The Worldwide New 7 Wonders of natural campaign included the Sundarbans and Cox’s Bazar among more than 440 candidate locations from 220 countries.
The writers are from North South University