Tourism sector has a huge potential and if we plan and endeavour with modern outlook and follow the developed countries which are using their resources to develop tourism and are earning a huge amount of foreign exchange, we can utilise this sector for the benefit of the country. We have to take strategies to diversify tourism products for attracting the attention of prospective tourists. When tourists, especially foreign ones once identify diversified tourism products of the country they will definitely be interested to make Bangladesh one of their prime tourism destinations and they will visit different parts of the country for enjoying its beauty, heritage and rich culture.
As of now Bangladesh hasn’t done a good job in developing the tourism sector as an industry. More has to be done in this regard and this sector has to be managed properly. Over the last forty years we have seen very dismal progress in tourism sector and thus it has not created a place for itself in the global market. It is still at a fledgling stage compared to our neighboring countries and the world. The pace with which it is moving forward is not impressive or acceptable as well. It should have by now accelerated its pace and attracted the attention of the world.
A very few number of tourists come to our country compared to the sites and tourist places and other tourism facilities we have. That is because we have not regarded it as a sector worthy of attention. We have not given it proper attention to develop it as a competitive business having capacity to earn a lot of foreign exchange. Currently, the percentage of tourists come to our country in comparison with that of even our neighbouring countries, is abysmal. In this new millennium it should have established itself convincingly and contributed noticeably to the country’s GDP. Most of the countries around us are flourishing in this sector and growing impressively.
There are many reasons for this sector’s sluggish growth. First and foremost is budgetary allocation without which this sector cannot be on the right track and when it comes to expertise for boosting up this sector, we see that we have insufficient number of trained personnel and experts for handling it and helping the same to be on the right footing. We are not reaching out to the potential tourists abroad through advertisements in electronic media, internet and social media network. We are not giving it the energy, innovations, ideas and fund to take off strongly. Tourists must be provided with the information, logistics and facilities so that they are convinced to come here to explore and find out the rich heritage, natural beauty of the country and communicate with the people to learn about their life style and culture.
Tourism has to be prioritised and its potential recognised. Having brand name is also important for tourism development. In most places there are not adequate facilities to cater to the demand and requirement of tourists. There have to have activities to keep them busy and interested in the places and facilities. We must have an easy and accessible transportation system which they can easily avail to move around comfortably and safely. Recreational activities around tourist spots are scanty too for tourism development. Foreign tourists always look around for facilities to have fun and make the most of their tour. They are ready to invest and they like to go back home with beautiful memories. If they are satisfied they feel motivated to come back again. They are interested in watching something new and interesting. Historical places, natural beauty of the country and wildlife easily attract them. Also, they have the knack for learning about the people they come by while they remain in a tour.
Tourists are very much interested in historical and archeological sites and sites of religious importance. Recently, religious sites have gained significant importance as attractive tourism destinations. If the government doesn’t manage and organise these sites, we will continue losing tourists in coming days. Cox’s Bazar, one of the most prime tourist spots in the country, is not receiving its due share of foreign and local tourists, because this place is not sufficiently developed with necessary infrastructures and logistics that attract tourists though it is a rich tourism resource and a popular site.
Communication facility is also not good enough. Mostly, tourism spots across the country are not easily accessible. As a result, tourists cannot visit tourist attractions conveniently. Getting to some places takes irritatingly long time to the turn tourism adventure into tiresome journey. After a long journey tourists often do not get enough time to move around and enjoy. Even if they want to stay overnight they find it difficult due to the lack of standard accommodation facilities and also due to inadequate security arrangements. Poor accommodation and security facilities and hassle to travel, in many cases, discourage them and make them change their mind to take a tour. It is very important to make tourism resources easily accessible to the tourists and improve other facilities to draw more tourists.
Proper marketing strategy has to be developed. Tourists must be convinced enough to put Bangladesh on top of their list of places to be visited. The culture and tradition of the indigenous people are also something which can draw huge number of tourists, both domestic and foreign. Tea gardens and historical monuments are important tourism attractions. Many places in Sylhet are popular for unique landscapes with mountains, forests and tea gardens. Many historical places in this region also can draw a huge number of tourists. Chittagong has many places like the hill tracts, long unbroken sea beaches and forests. This district is full of unique natural beauty. These two districts are eco-tourism paradise. The Sundarbans is a popular tourist spot for its mangrove forest, diversified wildlife, especially the Bengal Tiger. It has been declared world heritage site. Saint Martin’s Island can be developed as a world-class tourism paradise.
Tourists must be given the security and made to be felt safe while travelling around the country. Trained personnel must be delegated to handle their safety and security. Historical sites must be protected and preserved. They must be safe from damages and vandalism and callous use by the local people and domestic tourists. Tourism is a growing industry and this must be treated truly as a vital foreign exchange earner sector like other thrust sectors. Tourism, if handled from the point of view of economic development, can be a significant contributor to poverty alleviation and job creation. It is a sector with the immense potential and time to regard it on a par with other industries; it must not be ignored and sidelined. The government must treat it with top priority and if right attitude is there, it will generate a huge amount of foreign exchange.
If the tourist spots are developed, people will get jobs and their income will be augmented. They will also consider tourism as a source of earning for improving their standard of living and developing their family lives. Thus, they will develop interest towards its protection and will work for attracting more foreign and local tourists. They and their families will be benefited from this sector and the migration to big cities for jobs will reduce substantially if tourism facilities in rural areas are developed and hence the cities will be relieved of the floating population pressure on their infrastructure and law and order will also see marked improvement.
We should emphasise on domestic tourism too. Investors will cash in on it if the local tourist movement increases and they will develop areas around tourist spots. As a result, international tourists will pour in too. Eco-tourism is also very lucrative in the country, especially in those areas where nature abounds and culture is rich. Heritage should be linked up with tourism and this will also draw in local and international tourists.
Tourists will only come if they think and know for sure that the areas of interest have modern facilities and are safe and secure. If enough security measures are taken by the government and the investors to ensure free movement around tourist spots, they will happily come and visit. If the local people realise that by developing tourism facilities they also can be benefited, they will definitely become interested in the protection of these sites.
The world is in the age of globalisation, tourism is considered as a fast-growing industry and every country is trying to develop their areas and tourist spots and reaching out to potential tourists worldwide through advertisements in electronic media, especially in the internet and in all other possible means. This industry is growing and any country which treats it with indifference and disdain will lose out in earning foreign currency.
Bangladesh is one of those countries which are still not in the forefront or spearheading a movement to make the most of tourism sector. Tourism will create jobs and improve the people’s economic well being by bringing a change in the people’s standard of living and their outlook and attitude. This can cause a positive change in society and as the population becomes knowledge-based and dynamic with the growth of this industry, the other economic sectors will have a positive impact of tourism too. We must get the right plan on the table and get on with making this sector lucrative and feasible. A big change will come if the government takes up this challenging task and start a new era in tourism developement in Bangladesh.