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How to make expats to travel in Bangladesh

I would like to share my personal perception on how to increase the expat travel market in Bangladesh. My perception is based on personal experience as well as professional study. Please read my findings on the expat market characteristic in the Views On Tourism article The expatriate community .
Being a Danish expat in Bangladesh since late 2007, my advices are most of all covering the demand from developed western countries.

Expats in Bangladesh travel a lot in generally. The destinations are mainly national, regional and their home country. But the number of national trips pr. expat varies a lot – some expats have never left the up-quarters of Dhaka while others travel frequently to different destinations.
To increase the expat travel demand, tourism players must understand the mechanisms that encourage expats travel.

• Time – note expats do not always follow the Bangladeshi holidays and long holidays are often spend abroad
• Company – a group of friends or visitors from abroad
• A reason to go – expats will make time to go if we want to see a local Durga Puja event or the honey collectors in Sundarbans
• Recommendations from trusted sources (mostly family, friend, social expat club members, colleagues, travel writers, guide books etc.) Note expat newcomers do know where to go and what to see in Bangladesh, but they have read some of the disaster stories in Western media. This newly-landed group of people, especially families with children, will often not take a chance with unknown tour operators or destinations.
• Have certain values: adventures mind, can settle for basic accommodation and change of travel plans, seeking nature/culture, wanting to learn about Bangladesh and the society. In short this segment is the market of so-called eco / nature / culture / sustainable-tourism.
• Enjoy to interact with Bangladeshis. Note here that language problems can be a huge barrier for expats to communicate demand, get information’s and interact. Furthermore private space in western society is larger than in Bangladesh and some golden haired children are actually terrified with the frequent attention they receive from locals. This is a reason NOT to travel for several expat families with children.
• Lack of security, which are mainly focusing on transport. Examples are a reckless driver, dense traffic, lack of safety facilities (like safety belts or life jacket), night transportation and crowded public transportation.
• Accurate information – some tour operators promise luxury accommodation after a 2 hours drive to Dinajpur. This is often too good to be true and the conclusion is that the product was oversold – even if the holiday turned out positive.
• Price and quality match – many expats have high income and products should not be sold on price – but quality.
• Customized products. In western societies we are use to a large product variation to choose from and we expect to get what we ask for. We expect to tell people our requirements and get customized products – and we will gladly pay the price and be satisfied. Not all tourism providers are able to fulfill customers’ demand, which might be related to lack of language skills, interest or management.
• Western service expectations and business etiquette are sometimes very different from Bangladesh – and being treaded different than you expect can create a lot of frustration.
In my own experience my worst experience was when I bought a trip to Malaysia from a local tour operator. I was presented for a fixed tourist product – take it or leave it attitude, the information on their web-page was not updated (which was what made me come in the first place), lack of knowledge on product details (like where the hotel was situated), not able to tell me a fixed price, not able to find a payment solution (as I did not have a Bangladeshi bank account) etc. I had to visit the office 3 times, race my voice and talk with the director, before I had the tickets in my hand. I will never go back!

This article is written by Majbritt Thomsen, administrator on ‘Views On Tourism’.

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Posted in Bangladesh, Customer opinions, Market knowledge.

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