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The expatriate community

There are no official records of the expatriate community, but foreign countries with embassies or consulates in Bangladesh can be interpreted as having a high level of national activity and interest in the country. The 40 countries with national authorities in Bangladesh are: Australia, Bhutan, Brunei, Canada, China, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Iran, Japan, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Korea (South and North), Kuwait, Libyan, Malaysia, Morocco, Myanmar, Nederland, Nepal, Norway, Pakistan, Palestine, Poland, Qatar, Russia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, UK, United Arab Emirates, USA and Uzbekistan. 17 of the above mentioned authorities answered February- March 2008 when questioned about the numbers of citizens expatriated in Bangladesh. The answers generally show a lack of exact registration of citizens living in Bangladesh, but these estimations nevertheless provide an initial insight of this target group.

The total numbers of expats provided ends up to 13000 -15000 expats, primarily from India (5000-6000 persons), America (2400-2500 persons), Pakistan (2000-2050 persons) and England (around 2000 persons). The sum of expatriated Europeans is just over 3000. The further indication of the characterization of the expatriate community is based on the results of an exploratory tourism survey in Dhaka on the local target markets in November 2007. This paper author participated in making the survey as a part of a Feasibility Study on a Bangladeshi up scale eco resort. 51 random picked expats from 20 countries participated in the survey. Age between 22 and 60 were represented by the questioned, average age was 38 years. 12 questioned expats reside in Bangladesh alone while 35 live with a partner/spouse. 25 couples have 1-3 kids staying in Bangladesh at the age of 0 to 19, average age is 7.
In 48 expat households at least one person is working, in the remaining 3 household occupancy is study related. 16 expats are unemployed, all women living with working
partner/spouse. Annual household income is in generally high; 20 % earn US$60,000 – US$79,999, 16 % US$80,000 – US$99,999, 14 % US$40,000 – US$59,999 and a total of 38 % earn more than US$60,000.
The living period in Bangladesh range between 6 month and 22 years, average is 3.3 years.

Expatriate households make several annual trips with an overnight stay, the average number of stays is 1,8 in Bangladesh, 1,5 to home country, 2,8 to nearby countries and 1,1 to other countries. The expatriate travel pattern in Bangladesh show large differences; 14 households have no experience with such trips, while 8 households make more than 6 annual trips. The five most important elements when or if, selecting a place to visit/stay in Bangladesh are: cleanliness, beautiful natural setting, comfortable rooms, good food and environmentally friendly facilities. The destinations visited in Bangladesh by expats are mainly inspired by family and friends (62%), work colleagues (42%) and guide books (19%).

Personal experience on the expatriate community indicates that expats live, with only few exceptions, in the up quarters of Dhaka or Chittagong. Everyday life and most weekends’ expats in Dhaka stay in the hectic and polluted capital. Socializing with partner/spouse, children and friends is important, which is often taking place at local international clubs or Restaurants. Several expats are considering going on extended weekends to the Bangladeshi countryside. Expats, who have never stayed over night at national destinations outside Dhaka, often base their perception of Bangladesh on their impressions of the capital city. Some of their specific reasons not to go are: dangerous and hectic traffic, hours of travel time and lack of knowledge of the existing destination possibilities in the national tourist market.
Expats, who have stayed over night at national destinations outside Dhaka, often travel in larger groups related to work or personal relationships; quite often the reason to go is home country visitors. Travelling in rural Bangladesh is often explained as an intensive experience, which often causes personal frustrations as well as an increasing understanding of the countries background, present and future. Curious crowds of people, long travel time and hectic traffic are relevant travel obstacles, but several travel experienced expats argue that the best experiences in Bangladesh are to be found outside Dhaka.

This article is quoted from the chapter ‘The expatriate community’ from the Report ‘Introduction to the tourism industry in Bangladesh’ (2008) written by Majbritt Thomsen for the Royal Danish Embassy, Dhaka . Click here to read the original press release and download the report.

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

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