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Travel World article: The complexity of tourism – and what to do about it

Tourism is actually not defined as an industry, but an activity. This activity may best be conceived of as an interrelated system, understood as an assemblage of combination of things or parts forming a complex or unitary role.
Although tourism is not an industry, tourism does incorporate a variety of different types of tourism businesses and other organizations.

These players can be divided into sectors and include:
• Accommodations, food service, and retailing sector: Restaurants and food services of various types, hotels, resorts, guest houses, bed and breakfasts, farmhouses, apartments, villas, flats, condominiums and timesharing, vacation villages, conference center resorts, marinas, ecolodges and other specialist accommodations, shops of various types including duty free.
• Association sector: International, regional, national, and state trade and travel associations.
• Attractions and events sector: Theme parks, museums, national parks, wildlife parks, gardens, heritage sites, festivals and events.
• Convention and exhibition sector: Convention and exhibition centers, congress centers, auditoriums.
• Destination marketing sector: National tourist offices, state, provincial and territorial tourist offices, regional travel or tourism organizations, convention and visitors bureaus, local tourist authorities, tourism associations.
• Miscellaneous sector: Recreational facility operators, providers of travelers’ checks and insurance, tourism educators, travel writers, publishers of travel guides and books, and other businesses that serve travelers’ needs.
• Regulatory and coordinating sector: Government agencies and non-governmental organizations that regulate and coordinate different aspects of tourism, e.g., World Tourism Organization and International Civil Aviation Organization.
• Transportation carrier sector: Airlines, shipping lines, ferry services, railways, bus and motor coach operators, car rental operators.
• Travel trade intermediary sector: Tour operators and wholesalers, retail travel agents, convention/ meeting planners, corporate travel departments, incentive travel planners, and consolidators.
As a direct consequence of the complex nature of tourism there are so many issues that single tourism players cannot overcome themselves.

In my report ‘Introduction to the tourism industry in Bangladesh’ (2008) for The Royal Danish Embassy in Dhaka, I expressed my concern on the lack of organized destination development in the Bangladeshi tourism sector: “The tourism industry is quite a young line of business in Bangladesh, where the development predominantly has been left to the local market forces. The Bangladeshi government and private tourist sector are represented by organizations, nevertheless co-operation, strategies and policies aiming at developing a prosperous and sustainable tourist industry are rear – and not always implemented if they exist.
To develop the Bangladeshi tourism industry successfully a local based strategy is crucial – without visions, missions, goals and policies for this line of business the development is largely uncontrolled. Here by there is a possibility that an undesired or destroying tourist development takes place, often influent by powerful foreign tourist players. Political and/or private initiatives can control a national tourism development as well as introduce initiatives to strengthen the influence of local communities

In 2003 World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) published the report ‘Blueprint for tourism’ on the concept of ‘New Tourism’. Bangladesh, as a country with little corporation between the public authorities and the private tourism sector, can still learnt from the report.
The concept of New Tourism is a mature response to a more complex world, where a global consciousness of the importance of tourism has triggered a fresh look at the opportunities it represents. New Tourism is based on coherent partnership between the private sector and public authorities. It is geared to delivering commercially successful products – but in a way that ensures benefits for everyone. New Tourism looks beyond short-term considerations and focuses on benefits not only for people who travel, but also for people in the communities they visit, and for their respective natural, social and cultural environments.

WTTC recommend the flowering action and responsibility from the new tourism players:
Government should; show leadership by defining coherent and streamlined management structures that can efficiently drive New Tourism; elevate Travel & Tourism to strategic national level with senior level policy-making; and factor Travel & Tourism into all policies and decision-making, to promote growth that respects both business needs and the well-being of citizens.
Industry should; adapt strategic thinking so as to develop tourism with benefits for everyone; extend and diversify product offerings to improve yields and social value; and spearhead innovative management and help spread best practice through corporate social responsibility.
All stakeholders should; cooperate in identifying opportunities for growth; focus on building Travel & Tourism that opens up prospects for people – from employment to development; and work together to remove impediments to growth – from infrastructure shortcomings to pollution, and from outdated legislation to unmet health and security concerns.

In my point of view the responsibility for the present and future tourism development in Bangladesh is shared by all players involved. Only through united action and a knowledge based strategy can the national tourism flourish and become sustainable.

Writer information:
Majbritt Thomsen
MA in Tourism from Denmark, but have lived in Bangladesh since fall 2007.
Blog administrator of ‘Views On Tourism – online knowledge and inspiration to the Bangladeshi tourism sector’ at

This article was published in the Bangladeshi travel magasin The Travel World . The first part of the article was published in Volume 6, issue 67. July 2009.
Upload Majbritt Thomsen, administrator on ‘Views On Tourism’.

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Posted in Bangladesh, Cooperation and network, Development, Education and qualification, Performance and management, Policy, Sale and marketing, Sustainability.

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