Tourism contributes 4.4 pc to GDP

Travel and tourism in Bangladesh
March 18, 2020
Tourism awaits big boost
March 18, 2020

Country’s tourism and travelling sector’s contribution is low compared with the global range to the gross domestic product (GDP). Inadequate infrastructure, high cost of doing business and lack of branding are impeding the further flourishment of the sector.

Though Bangladesh contribution of travel and tourism fluctuated substantially in recent years, its contribution is 4.4 percent to GDP but the global contribution is 10.4 percent. Total contribution of tourism and travel sector to the GDP of Bangladesh was over BDT 840.2 billion last year.

The sector is expected to grow by 7.1 per cent per year raising the total contribution of BDT 1,783 billion or 4.7 per cent to the country’s GDP by 2027, says a World Travel and Tourism Council ((WTTC) report. According to tour operators and hotel and motel owners, around 60 per cent of the domestic travelers visit Cox’s Bazar

Other challenges include concentrated tourist attractions, absence of promotional activity and poor certification policy, said the report.

Bangladesh is a country of natural beauty, hilly mountains, longest sea beach, favorable climate, seven seasons which are the key factors to develop eco-tourism, sustainable tourism and rural tourism. Bangladesh has many archeological and historical sites too. And the hospitality of people and local culture, life style is a unique selling point.

Tourism is a growing industry in Bangladesh, which will create more jobs through investment and will eradicate poverty by a significant percentage. This will help the country to achieve one of the “Sustainable Development Goals”

Country’s infrastructure will be developed significantly. More roads and highways will be built. Various hotels and restaurants will be established. Rail connection between Cox’s Bazaar and Chittagong has become a necessity. After infrastructure, developing superstructures like hotels, motels, inns, restaurants, amusement parks, theme parks are also important for tourists in the destinations. In Cox’s bazar there are plenty of hotels and motels. But in other destinations like Kuakata, Rangamati, Khagrachari very few quality hotels are established. Besides, theme parks, game zone, sports zone like parasailing, paragliding, scuba diving etc. are needed to be established for adventurous tourists.

In the tourism sector we need entrepreneurial activities. As such both public and private sector partnership may be developed in the tourism sector of Bangladesh. Young entrepreneurs and tribal people may be encouraged to prepare various types of goods and services reflecting rich cultural heritage including art- craft of the country for selling to the foreign tourists.

Foreign tourist will bring valuable foreign exchange earnings. Tourism market should be segmented on the basis of income level. This is not only applicable for foreigners but also domestic tourists. On the other hand upper class people of the country who tours abroad can be inspired to tour within the income group and lower income group of people of the country, tourism facility should be created within their purchasing power capability. The country can increase market shares in the tourism sector through creating its competitiveness. Technological innovations in the communication sector especially media can contributes towards cross boarder cultural and spread of global ideology. E-marketing strategy may be followed. The commercial banks need to provide the credit at reasonable terms to make tourism industry as an industry viable and thrust sector. There should be allocation of money for equity participation funding to develop the sector. Unskilled tour operator should get proper trainings.

Though Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation has been taking initiatives to train manpower in different trades of the tourism industry but most of their trained people are not up to the mark. Only recently some public and private universities opened Dept. of Tourism and Hospitality. This will definitely encourage creating skilled manpower in the tourism sector and as a result new generation may use innovative ideas to capacity building and opportunities to attract tourists in the country.

Political stability is also one of the crucial prerequisite to attract tourists. Infrastructure should be developed with a target oriented planning, which must be properly implemented. Develop the management education on tourism marketing and prepare marketing or sales people to sell the product properly to the right place in local and global perspectives as well. Changes of rules and procedures for foreign tourists, tourist visas on arrival at airport can be given to the tourists. For domestic tourists those who are working in public and private sector, leave with full pay for one month per annum may be provided by the authorities.

Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation (BPC) should create pressure on the authorities concerned to implement her policy more strictly regarding the quality of service. As a result, private service provider will be able to face competition on an even ground. Development of tourism industry means heavy investment from both private and govt. sector. This will create an industrial base. More investment will create more jobs. Countries economic growth will accelerate. Therefore country will achieve 7th objective which is basically sustainable economic growth. Environmental sustainability which is on the major concerns of today’s world can be achieved. Bangladesh is a country of natural beauty. By developing eco-tourism here tourists can discover its beauty without harming the local people’s lifestyle and the nature’s gifts. It will also maintain the sustainability of the environment and local culture. Bangladesh is a country of lots of spiritual spots like mosque, shrines, and temples. We can promote these places to foreigners. The world second largest congregation “World Ijtema” is also held here. So there are lots of scopes to develop religious tourism. Almost all the technologies (i.e. machineries, software) of tourism industry of Bangladesh are imported. Policies and initiatives should be taken so that, these technologies can be produced locally as there are sufficient demands in the local levels. To deliver information to the foreign tourist through online or website and information technology is necessary to research about new tourist spots.

Tourism is a promising sector in Bangladesh. It is a growing sector with an increasing contribution in GDP.

Mere some infrastructural development can make the sector sustainable. Without maintaining proper growth in the sector, it may be lag behind in making its future contribution in national economy. From statistical test, it is found that the contribution is already significant. But it can contribute further by creating more employment, generating demand for accommodations and food, improving transportation, and as whole branding Bangladesh to the world. This is a big sub-sector of the national economy. There is a good research scope on country branding and the tourism.

The government has taken a number of projects for the development of tourism sector to attract more local and foreign tourists which will ultimately help the country to achieve the much-desired double digit GDP growth. Bangladesh can attract the huge global tourists, mostly from China, currently visiting countries like India and Myanmar by offering its beautiful places to them as an extended destination of their visits

However, there are some non-fiscal supports for the sector like initiative by the Bangladesh Tourism Board (BTB) to prepare a tourism master plan, and identification as a potential sector by the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA).

Local tourists account for 98 percent of tourism in Bangladesh, said market operator.

Dr Afjal also said “As Bangladesh is witnessing a rapid development in infrastructure, the tourism sector will be able to make a major contribution to the national economy within the next five years, with the number of foreign and domestic tourists greatly increasing.

Bangladeshis are hospitable and friendly. We need to communicate the good things about Bangladesh to foreigners, he added.

Dr Afjal stressed on running massive digital promotional campaigns that highlight Bangladesh positively to foreigners.

He also emphasized the importance of good infrastructure, saying tourists will be more willing to come if they can travel easily.

In response to a question, the expert also said only locations offering natural beauty are not sufficient, as it is important for tourists to be able to spend at least 10 out of the 24 hours in a day in any one place. Theatre halls, open stages, musical events, and theme parks should also be built, Dr Afjal said.

The DU professor also stated the need for bars and nightlife – even if they are in exclusive zones, as these are essential for tourists.

Dr.  Afjal expressed his woes about the budget allocation for the tourism sector, calling it inadequate.

He also said some 840,000 foreigners visit Bangladesh annually, but pure tourists are very limited. In contrast, 13,700,000 domestic tourists visit the same spots annually.