Nowadays, entrepreneurship has become a buzzword. Entrepreneurship is the driver that plunges any successful industry of an economy to move forward. Likewise, entrepreneurship plays roles as the engine of the tourism industry which is known as one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. In a broader sense, hospitality and leisure industries are also considered as tourism industry. The tourism industry is based on a wide range of tourist/visitor related business venture permitted within the national rules and regulations.
A ‘tourism entrepreneur’ may be defined as a person or a group of persons producing and managing tourism products and services by launching an enterprise through the professional application of knowledge, skills, competencies of monetising a tourism-related innovative idea. In this process, the entrepreneur must have the commonly prescribed entrepreneurial traits (like persistent, responsible, inquisitive, goal-oriented, committed, competitive, innovative, enthusiastic, deal with stress, risk-taking, independent, self-demanding, self-confident, leadership, among many others) along with service sector specialties.In this case, the enterprise may be a new one or a diversified one from an existing enterprise which is one distinct from seeking self-employment as in a profession or trade to pursue growth while generating wealth, employment, and social goods.
In other words, tourism entrepreneurship deals with the legal activities of the major group of stakeholders of this service sector, primarily designed for the effective and profitable interaction of demand and supply of tourism products and services while assuring competitive professionalism and standard socio-economic condition. The success of these enterprises often depends on the leadership of a vibrant and innovative entrepreneur professional who can take various risks having the courage to try new solutions to emerging challenges like unsustainable supply chains, outdated business practices, financial crises, and so on.
Tourism can facilitate the development of entrepreneurship. Moreover, tourism is a labour-intensive smoke-free industry that is capable of creating a significant number of new jobs by generating numerous business opportunities. Therefore, the participation of the local population in tourism industry contributes to the balanced development of both the industry and nation.
The contribution of tourism sector to GDP of Bangladesh is 3%, while its contribution to creating job employment is 2.9%. This sector has even more potentials considering the opportunities of tourism entrepreneurship in Bangladesh. The country is rich in cultural, heritage, scenic and natural resource diversities which are considered as tourism resources/attractions.
Almost every upazila of Bangladesh comprises these tourism attractions which make them potential tourist destinations. Moreover, the hospitable people of these areas are the key to the tourism potentials of these destinations. Now, it warrants proper knowledge and skills on tourism entrepreneurship along with the required support from the government flourishing such potentials.
Tourism entrepreneurship can offer everything, composition of products and services, starting from planning a tour to post-tour. Some of the examples of tourism entrepreneurship in the context of Bangladesh are transportation (bullock/cow carts, auto rickshaws, van, other motor vehicles); accommodation (e.g., home stays, tree house, mud house, boathouse, boutique, heritage, etc.); catering (area-specific gastronomy tourism); enjoying natural, cultural and heritage beauty; entertainments; experiences including adventure, nature-based, community-based, and other types of tourism; and other service facilities like shopping, banking, guiding, escorting, security, tour operators, travel agents, magazines, among many others.Any entrepreneur can be involved in any one or some of these above-mentioned tourism enterprises focusing on their locality whether it an urban or rural or in between. Considering the potential tourism resources of Bangladesh in traditional and potential tourism destinations, there are immense potentials for various types of tourism especially nature-based tourism (ecotourism/green tourism/community-based tourism), cultural tourism, business tourism, water tourism, education tourism, sports tourism among others.
Moreover, other specific types of tourism like pro-poor tourism, coastal and maritime tourism (blue tourism), medical and well-being tourism, rural tourism, culinary tourism, agro and fruits-based tourism, adventure tourism, ethnic tourism, religious tourism are potential in Bangladesh. It requires proper planning and its implementation with effective monitoring and evaluation by the involvement of multi-stakeholder including the local communities.
Most of the tourist destinations of Bangladesh are located in rural areas. A variety of Bangladeshi lifestyles are experienced in these rural areas where around 63% of the total population live in with the treasure of craft, performing arts and rich traditional norms and values. Therefore, there is good potential for rural tourism.
Rural tourism entrepreneurship needs to be focused on in Bangladesh due to facilitate the use of local resources (both human and non-human), create additional scopes of employment for rural manpower, achieve a better standard of living and improved income sources, explore the possibilities of forward and backward linkages through vertical and horizontal integration of manpower, preserve and maintain the traditional culture and value system, and awareness building on biodiversity conservation.
Potential areas for rural tourism, cultural tourism, adventure tourism, ethnic tourism and religious tourism are Shat Gumbuj Mosque, Khan Jahan Ali Shrine, Panam Nagar, Mainamati Bihar, Paharpur Bihar, Mohastangar Bihar, Sona Masjid, Kantajir Temple, Kusumba Mosque, Golden Temple, the Sundarbans; tribal of Chattogram Hill Tracts, Sylhet, and North Bengal; forests, tea and rubber gardens, sea, rivers, haors, baors, mountains, Barind tracts; folk dances; various festival events in the rural areas among many others to mention here. The North Bengal is known as a fruit zone particularly popular for mangoes, litchi, and jackfruits during the Summer. Therefore, tourism sites are spread out almost all over the country.
There are four distinct types of entrepreneurial organisations: small businesses, scalable start-ups, large companies, and social entrepreneurs. Besides traditional business entrepreneurship, there are opportunities for the application of social entrepreneurship (new and creative approach) in tourism. Tourism social entrepreneurship (TSE) is known as a market-based approach to address various social challenges (such as inequality, illiteracy, environmental pollution, health issues, etc.) by maximising the benefits to local communities and minimising the negative impacts and externalities through tourism entrepreneurship.
TSE promotes tourism-related businesses through local people's participation to create social goods and services (profits) to provide aids and opportunities to disadvantaged community population (people). Therefore, TSE can reduce not only individual inequality but also social inequalities to improve the living standards of the local people (social capital) by reinvesting the profits and creating more job opportunities in tourism-based social enterprises.
TSE should promote sustainable social transformation through sustainable development of the local communities considering innovative solutions to social, environmental, and economic problems of that destination by mobilising new ideas, capacities, resources, and social agreements to ensure a better society.
TSE reduces external dependencies and ensures more internal flow of money to enjoy economic freedom for their better life. However, making a profit is not the only goal of TSE rather creating more job opportunities improved socio-economic and cultural status and better environment can be facilitated.
Tourists habitually seek pleasant and delightful experiences. Tourism products should consist of an environment of peace and stability, an assurance of safety and security, an affable host society, an industry and a government that provides the requisite services, absence of extortion and hostility, and accessible tourist attractions.
Online marketing can attract potential tourists. Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Google +, LinkedIn, and social media are all network or relationship-building tools to win the hearts and minds of these tourists to promote tourism enterprises.
Entrepreneurship is the cause of growing an economy that is a significant change agent in social and economic development within society. Tourism entrepreneurship relates to developing tourism in an area. The tourism industry is dominated by small and medium-sized enterprises where entrepreneurship is even more important to the development of this industry. Tourism entrepreneurs require innovations, knowledge, capacity, value-driven leadership, and tools to ensure the sustainability of this entrepreneurship. Proper management of tourism entrepreneurship can serve us significant benefits to facilitate empowered and dignified local communities as well to exalt the positive image of Bangladesh in the outer world.
The writer is a Professor, Forestry and Wood Technology Discipline, Khulna University. E-mail: [email protected]