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The strategy that needs to be shaped

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Tourism takes Z.A.M. Khairuzzaman’s fancy

Bangladesh is a beautiful surprise to tourists who come visiting. It is the daughter of the sea. It is the largest and youngest delta in the world, stands on the world’s largest bay, the Bay of Bengal. The most beautiful sunset in the world is there in Bangladesh. The longest unbroken sea beach in the world, Cox’s Bazar, may attract beach lovers from everywhere. Evergreen rural Bangladesh, crisscrossed by rivers, could well be paradise.

The single largest Buddhist monastery in the world, the Paharpur Mahavihara, built in the eighth century AD, is located in Bangladesh. The monastery has been designated a world heritage site by Unesco. Till now twenty eight ruins of Buddhist monasteries and temples from the 6th-11th centuries at Mainamoti have been discovered.

The largest mangrove forest, the Sundarbans, is in Bangladesh. The forest, also a natural world heritage site, is home to the Royal Bengal Tiger. The lush green Chittagong Hill Tracts, hundreds of rivers, plains and evergreen landscape — all these are world-class eco-tourism products that Bangladesh can offer to the world.

Bangladesh is well connected by air with almost all big cities of the world.

Against the backdrop of the present state of tourism, Faruque Hasan has come forth with this valuable book. He draws a down to earth strategy to develop tourism in Bangladesh.

The problem of image lies behind the dismal state of tourism in our country, according to the author. Books like Monica Ali’s Brick Lane can only sully the nation’s reputation. On the other hand, Tahmima Anam’s A Golden Age can enormously brighten the image of the country.

Hasan blames the international news media for portraying a wrong image of the country. They cautiously avoid telling the world of the brighter side of Bangladesh and are more than eager to portray the seamy side of it.

He also thinks that apathy toward tourism on the part of policy makers has given the tourism sector a gloomy image. Tourism branding requires the building up of a positive image of the country. Bangladesh needs to shape a pragmatic tourism marketing strategy for at least ten years to penetrate the international tourism market.

In an overview of global tourism, Hasan notes that tourism is the biggest growth industry in the 21st century. The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) forecasts that the number of international tourist arrivals will reach at 1.6 billion by 2020, involving as much as US$2 trillion. Travel and tourism hold the biggest potential for job creation across the world.

To strengthen its economy and create jobs for its unemployed and underemployed workforce and thus benefit its low and middle-income people, Bangladesh may choose to develop eco-tourism, culture and heritage tourism, urban tourism, and rural tourism at the sustainable level. This is the observation of the author. He thinks that with its great potential in tourism, Bangladesh may increase the number of tourists visiting it to the tune of two million in the next five to 10 years.

One of the most important needs is to making government policy makers understand the true nature of tourism. He is of the opinion that the responsibility for implementing the strategy should be given to people who are motivated for the purpose and who will take their jobs not as merely as a livelihood, but as a mission as well. He suggests sustainable tourism in Bangladesh. The concept of sustainable tourism has many ramifications, such as ecological sustainability, social sustainability, cultural sustainability, and economic sustainability.

Around 68 percent of the people of Bangladesh reside in rural areas of the country and are engaged mainly in agricultural farming at subsistence level. Most of them depend largely on the natural environment to exist. As such, rural tourism may be developed. Rural tourism will give people, so vastly dependent on subsistence farming, an alternative source of income.

The United Nations Millennium Development Goals speak of gender equity, targeted to be achieved by the year of 2015. Economic emancipation of women through creation of employment for them is one of the preconditions to be met to achieve gender equality by that time.

If we wish to enhance the level of tourism in our country, we need to motivate our embassies and high commissions abroad in promoting the sector. Tourists are our ‘paying guests,’ not adversaries, and so there is little to be happy about in not granting them visas to enter the country.

‘Tourism Enriches’-let this theme come true in Bangladesh.
Z.A.M. Khairuzzaman is a working journalist at The Daily Star.
The book is available at Papyrus (Bookstall), Aziz Supermarket, Ground Floor, Shahabagh, Dhaka.

This article is quoted from Daily Star . The article was originally published on 2008-11-08.

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

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Posted in Bangladesh, Policy, Sustainability.


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