Bangladesh can be a prime destination for foreign tourists who wish to visit any Asian country if required facilities like a vibrant night life for tourists and digital promotional activities could be ensured, says an expert.
“What we’ve are extraordinary, natural and God-gifted ones. But we need to do much more to attract foreign tourists in line with their desires,” Dr M Afjal Hossain, a professor of Dhaka University’s Tourism and Hospitality Management department, told UNB.
The direct contribution of travel and tourism to GDP was Tk 427.5 bn or 2.2 percent of total GDP in 2017 and is forecast to rise by 6.1 percent in 2018, according to World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) data.
In 2017, travel and tourism directly supported 1,178,500 jobs (1.8 percent of total employment). This is expected to rise by 3.0 percent in 2018.
Since Bangladesh is witnessing rapid development with growing infrastructure, he said, the tourism sector will be able to contribute to the national economy in a big way within next five years with increased number of foreign and domestic tourists.
“Bangladeshi people are hospitable and friendly ones. We’ve stability. We’re no more a country of ‘bottomless basket’ or a country of beggars. We need to communicate these positive things about Bangladesh with foreigners,” said Prof Afjal.
He laid emphasis on massive promotional activities using digital technology and digital platforms and highlighting positive Bangladesh abroad.
Stressing the importance of smooth connectivity, the tourism sector expert said if foreign tourists can visit the prime locations of Bangladesh at the shortest possible time, foreigners will feel encouraged to come to Bangladesh.
“Foreign tourists want comfortable journeys and cover maximum locations at the shortest possible time (considering time and budget),” said Prof Afjal.
Responding to a question, the expert said a foreign tourist must be given at least 10 hours of 24 hours to spend happily in any tourism spot. “We need to have theatre hall, open stage, musical event and theme park. Only sea beach is not enough to spend 10 hours. We need to offer more.”
He said it is not true that foreign tourists will come to Bangladesh only to take wine. “But some tourists may ask for wine. We don’t have something called ‘night life’. We need to have Bars … we don’t have any problem if they take it in exclusive zones.”
Talking about the budget, Prof Afjal said the budgetary allocation that the tourism sector gets annually is not adequate at all.
He said some 8.4 lakh foreigners visit Bangladesh annually but the pure tourists are very limited. On the other hand, some 1.37 crore domestic tourists visit tourism spots in the country annually.
“We need to boost foreign tourists’ inflow. And we hope the number of domestic tourists will exceed 4-5 crore annually,” Prof Afjal said.
Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister AKM Shajahan Kamal on Thursday urged the students and young generation to positively represent the tourism sector of Bangladesh all across the world through social media like Facebook and Twitter.
He said in many countries tourism is considered as a major source of economy. “If we want to develop our tourism industry, we must use digital platforms for promoting our tourism industry to attract foreign tourists.”
Despite having huge potential, Minister Kamal said, Bangladesh is yet to ensure required facilities for the foreign tourists in the country.
Civil Aviation and Tourism Ministry Secretary M Mohibul Haque said the government wants to work round the year for the development of the tourism industry and laid emphasis on coordinated efforts for branding Bangladeshi tourism products abroad.
As one of the world’s largest economic sectors, travel and tourism creates jobs, drives exports, and generates prosperity across the world.
In WTTC’s annual analysis of the global economic impact of travel and tourism, the sector is shown to account for 10.4 percent of global GDP and 313 million jobs, or 9.9 percent of total employment in 2017.