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A new approach needed to develop Bangladesh’s tourism sector

A Bangladeshi Monitor article by Majbritt Thomsen, Ovner of Views On Tourism Project

There should be no doubt, national as well as international; the Bangladesh tourism sector has indeed potential. This is the profound conviction of Majbritt Thomsen, a Danish expatriate with a MA in Tourism, two years of living and travelling in Bangladesh. In contact with a variety of people related to the Bangladeshi tourism sector, she has done a study on the potential of the national tourism. In her point of view, a major barrier to a positive development of the national tourism sector is the lack of a consistent strategy-based on cooperation, knowledge and sustainability.

She thinks, to take advantage of the Bangladesh?s tourism potential, the right actions are needed from all players involved. Individual tourism providers must constantly increase their awareness on customer demands and travel trends to develop desired products. Furthermore, all players related to tourism must cooperate to diminish the general industry obstacles in areas of marketing, management, infrastructure, policy, safety, regulation, image, destination development, etc.
Last but not the least; the government must play an active role in tourism management, policy-making and decision-making, to promote growth that respects both business needs and the well-being of citizens, she opined.

The presence of tourism in any destination always brings with it environmental and socio-cultural as well as economic impacts. This is why tourism internationally is often praised as an effective development tool, especially in rural areas and the developing world. A sustainable tourism strategy would have a major positive impact on the Bangladesh society.
The challenges of the Bangladeshi tourism sector is by far unique, so why not be inspired by the success and experience of others, she asked.

Majbritt Thomsen observed that tourism has since the 1990s been a small but rapidly growing sector of the Bangladeshi economy. Nevertheless, Bangladesh is still one of the countries in the South Asian region with the least arrivals and the lowest revenue earned from the tourism industry.

She quoted from Lonely Planet in support of her view. Last year Lonely Planet, which is the absolute world leader of publishing travel guides and guidebooks, recommended Bangladesh as one of the top ten interesting travel destinations in 2009. The country introduction by Lonely Planet is unplayable in terms of national image branding:

Let’s get this straight from the start. Bangladesh is not a country of disappointment as portrayed in ‘Brick Lane’ or by the international media, nor is it merely the poorly endowed cousin of India. Instead Bangladesh is a revelation that actually leaves India looking a little worse for a wear. Any visitor who ventures here will return home with stories so improbable that claiming you have a pet unicorn is likely to be met with fewer disbelieving shakes of the head.

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2009, p6.

Majbritt Thomsen started the website ‘Views On Tourism’ with the objective to gather Bangl-adeshi, Asian and international articles on the many topics related to a positive tourism development. This site now also includes more than 50 links to international knowledge sources, where Bangladeshi tourism players can easily search for further inspiration. The article themes include best practices, marketing, management, development, IT, education, policy, market knowledge, cooperation and customer opinion.

Usha Sree, an Indian national with more than 10 years of international experience in the tourism and hospitality industry has recently joined Majbritt Thomsen to further activate the project and together with their Bangladeshi affiliation they are expecting to launch new services in the near future for capacity building and collaboration to achieve sustainable tourism in Bangladesh through skills development training, seminars, business/ investor presentations, designing tourism products and services, developing partnerships, holding tourism related events, form a knowledge pool comprising of tourism and related industry players, support services, travel writers, photographers, educators, etc. to create a tourism movement that will have a long term positive impact on the Bangladesh tourism sector.

This article A new approach needed to develop Bangladesh is quoted from The Bangladeshi Monitor, Bangladesh. December 2009.

Important corrections to this article are that Indian Usha Sree is not related to the Views On Tourism Project any more.
The Views On Tourism Project is indeed committed to capacity building in the Bangladeshi tourism sector through knowledge and cooperation. The main vision is, through a variation of initiatives, to inspire a sustainable tourism movement in Bangladesh. Only if visionary Bangladeshis join hands and ideas can the tourism sector development become truly positive and sustainable.

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Posted in Bangladesh, Cooperation and network, Education and qualification, Sustainability.

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