The United Nations have declared 2017 as the Year of sustainability. Based on this subject the UN-affiliated organisations have already set relevant themes and chalked out various programmes. The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has announced its theme for 2017 as ‘Sustainable Tourism for Development’. Bangladesh being a member country of the UNWTO is trying to focus the sustainable development of its tourism industry in line with the global goal 2030 i.e. Sustainable Development Goal (SDG).
We are already familiar with the SDG 8, 12, 14 which are directly and indirectly pertinent to the sustainable tourism development. Achieving the sustainable goals by 2030 as set by the UN is not easy at all. With regards to tourism, the way is quite thorny. In case of Bangladesh, we have many miles to tread.
For the sustainable tourism development, the UNWTO has set some code of conducts and published a book titled ‘Global Code of Ethics’. It has also circulated the book to a member of countries.
In line with the sustainable tourism development concept, UNWTO has issued a slogan ‘Travel, Enjoy and Respect’. It also emphasises the responsibilities of tourists for sustainability of the tourism industry. Tourists will definitely travel to a destination for their recreation, enjoyment and knowledge. But this should not hamper the privacy of a given community or society. Tourists must show utmost respect to local community, local culture and their traditions.
The UNWTO sponsored ‘Global Code of Ethics’ enumerates many codes of conducts to be observed by its member countries. For example, travel agents and tour operators in no way should deceive tourists or provide them with false information while offering package tours. They should provide proper services as per the tour itinerary. Tourism stakeholders will refrain themselves from using child labour in tourism industry. No tourist and tour operator will engage any child in prostitution. No tourist or tourism stakeholder will sexually harass any female tourist during her travel alone. Travel agents should not sell any package that harm nature or bio-diversity. Tourists should not demand anything that is illegal or contraband in that particular destination he or she is traveling to. No tourist or service provider of tourism industry should involve in smuggling of artifacts or valuable archaeological elements. Each country should have crisis communication plan involving all the tourism stakeholders.
Bangladesh, though in its murky road towards the sustainable tourism development, has initiated some activities like community tourism development around ‘Sonargaon Folk and Art Museum and Panam City’ under Narayanganj district, at ‘Kantjeu Temple’ in Dinajpur, ‘Mahasthangarh’ in Bogra, ‘Paharpur world heritage site’ in Naogaon and ‘60-dome Mosque world heritage site’ in Bagerhat. Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation (BPC) and Department of Archaeology (DoA) have initiated some joint programmes for the preservation and conservation of the archaeological sites as well as their proper display to tourists. For proper interpretation of those sites, some professional guides are being developed.
Moreover, BPC has translated the UNWTO’s set of ‘Global Code of Ethics’ in Bengali and already distributed its print version among the tourism stakeholders some years back. This document is an essential issue for the sustainable tourism development. The code of conducts that are mentioned in the book must be well interpreted and implemented by all the governments of UNWTO member countries for the sustainable tourism development. The UNWTO also suggests monitoring the proper implementation of the set of the ‘Codes of Ethics’.
Bangladesh though is yet to appear as a single popular mass tourism destination in the world map, it may go for implementing the code of conducts for creating a positive image across the globe. However, holding of many workshops, seminars and publications are necessary to sensitise the tourism stakeholders of the country. Once Bangladesh sticks to implementing the sustainable tourism development policy, the economic impact of tourism definitely will appear significant to all. Bangladesh will also be able to attract more and more high-spending foreign eco-tourists to this country.
The writer is the head of PR, Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation