Friday, 9 June, 2023

Tourism sector struggling despite huge potential

Lack of modern amenities, entertainment options blamed

  • Staff correspondent
  • 30 April, 2023 12:00 AM
  • Print news
Tourism sector struggling despite huge potential

Bangladesh's tourism industry, accounting for only 2.2 percent of the country's GDP in 2021, has failed to flourish due to a lack of adequate facilities and entertainment options for tourists.  

Experts believe that with increased investment in infrastructure and attractions, the nation could significantly boost its tourism revenues.

While neighboring South Asian countries are attracting more tourists by offering modern facilities and experiences, Bangladesh seems to be lagging behind. In a concerning trend, Bangladeshi tourists are increasingly choosing to travel abroad, thereby spending their money in other countries.

Businesses and stakeholders in the tourism sector are urging the government to provide policy support to help reverse this trend. Countries like Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates are implementing reform measures to revitalize their tourism industries.

For example, the UAE is planning to launch a Las Vegas-style casino to attract more visitors.

Syed Ghulam Qadir, Secretary General of the World Tourism Network (WTN), points out that tourists seek cultural experiences and entertainment options when visiting a country.

He cited the example of Nepal, where visitors can enjoy cultural events while dining in local restaurants. Unfortunately, popular tourist destinations in Bangladesh, such as Cox's Bazar, lack essential amenities like golf courses, parks, entertainment centers, and adventure tours.

Qadir further emphasized the need for duty-free alcohol imports, stating that high taxes on alcohol make it prohibitively expensive for foreign tourists visiting Bangladesh.

Abu Taher Md Jaber, CEO of the Bangladesh Tourism Board, noted that a master plan to divide the country into eight regions and 53 clusters is nearing completion.

This plan aims to develop tourism spots like TanguarHaor, Shahpori Island, Padma Bridge, Sarankhola in Sundarbans, and Paharpur Buddhist Bihar, also known as Somapura Mahavihara.

State Minister for Tourism Md Mahbub Ali acknowledged that Bangladesh is lagging behind countries like Saudi Arabia and Malaysia in terms of tourism development.

He also noted that the government is constructing exclusive tourism parks at Sabrang and an eco-tourism park in Sonadia, both equipped with entertainment facilities for foreign tourists.The tourism master plan, which is in its final stage, aims to develop various facilities, including amusement parks, at key tourism spots.

According to a 2020 report from the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, the country's tourism sector contributed 3.02 percent to the GDP, amounting to Tk 766.90 billion.

In the fiscal year 2018-19, about 29,21,000 Bangladeshi tourists traveled abroad, spending nearly Tk 749.59 billion in foreign countries.