Destination Bangladesh

Destination Bangladesh

September 8, 2016

By Masuk Ur Rahman

Think of a country where in every aspect people keep complaining about development, infrastructure and services issues but whenever someone visits and goes back they say a different story other than negative issues. Well Bangladesh do have short comings not being a tick-the-sights-off-the-list type of country. So you need to slow down here to relax, meet people and explore new ideas and ways of life and then you start having the Bangladesh as a destination for traveling. This is how we tell about our country to other nationals but it is a different scenario for our very own domestic travelers? In Bengali the word “Desh” means country. Our domestic population loves to refer to their locality as a “Desh”. No matter we are living, a tiny little country, yet people actually consider other localities as another “Desh” and act as such. So the whole bigger picture is the same for both the Inbound Foreign Travelers and our very own domestic travelers. Though the Government of Bangladesh tends to focus more on Inbound tourists while the statistics show us that we need to focus a lot more on our domestic tourists since they are the majority in case of monetary contribution.

A travel destination means a place with its identical culture of that place. For Bangladesh, we have a lot of places to offer tourists; both the Domestic and Inbound Tourists. We can classify them as the following:

1. Natural Beauties:

  • Sea-Beach and Islands: Cox’s Bazar World’s Longest Sea Beach, Saint Martin’s Coral Island, Moheshkhali Island, Sonadiya Island, Nijhum Island, Kuakata Sea Beach, Kattoli Sea Beach, Potenga Sea Beach.
  • Mountain and Hill Stations: Sajek, Nilgiri, Nilachal, Chimbuk Hills, Keokradong, Sippi Arsuang, Kirstuang, Tajingdong, Saka Haphong etc.
  • Water Falls: Madhabkundo, Hum Hum, Rijuk, Shuvolong, Jadipai, Nafakum, Amiakum, Tinap, Hajachara, Risang, Sijuk, Raikhiyang, Tlabong, Jinsiyam Saitar, Lung Fer Va Saitar etc.
  • Lake and Marshland: Kaptai Lake, Bogalake, Mohamaya Lake, Madhobpur Lake, Baikka Beel, Hakaluki Haor, Tanguar Haor, Chalan Beel, Raikhiyang Lake etc.
  • Forest and National Parks: Sundarbans, Modhupur-Bhawal Garh, Tilagarh Eco Park, Satchari National Park, Rema-Kalenga Wildlife Sanctuary, Ratargul Swamp Forest, Teknaf Game Reserve.
  • Rivers and Canals: Lalakhal (Blue Water Canal), Naf River, Shomeswari River, Sangu River, Jamuna River, Padma River, Ruma Canal, Remakri Canal etc.
  • Others: Swarupkathi Back Water Region.

2. Places With Tourist Attraction:

  • Tea Estates: Sreemangal
  • Brass Metal Works: Dhamra
  • Otter Fishing: Narail Bhatiari
  • Ship Breaking Yard: Chittagong
  • Streets Old Town of Dhaka
  • Liberation War Museum, Dhaka.
  • Dhaka Sadarghat
  • National Parliament Building: Dhaka

3. Archaeological Sites:

  • Dhaka Division: Lalbagh Fort, Ahsan Manjil, Sonargaon Panam City, Idrakpur Fort, Baliati Palace, Muktagacha Palace, Tara Mosque, Bara Katra, Armenian Church, Dhakeshwari Temple.
  • Chittagong Division: Moinamati Bihara, Chittagong Port, WW2 War Cemetery, Bandarban Golden Temple.
  • Sylhet Division: Shrine Hazrat Shah Jalal, Keane Bridge, Osmani Museum, Finlay Tea Estate, Malnichara Tea Estate, Museum of the Rajas.
  • Rajshahi and Rangpur Division: Kushumba Mosque, Puthiya Palace, Uttara Ganabhaban, Paharpur Vihara, Mahasthangarh, Bagha Mosque, Choto Shona Mosque, Kantajeu Temple, Jogoddol VIhara, Tajhat Palace Behula Laxmindar Basor Ghar.
  • Khulna and Barishal Division: Shrine of Fakir Lalon Shah, Shat Gombuj Mosque, Shilaidaha Kuthibari, Kuakata Buddhist Temple, Barishal Church.

These are the main attractions being visited by both the domestic and inbound tourists. Among all the tourists we can classify themselves into 6 categories.

(i) Site Tourism: In Bangladesh, tourists travelling for leisure usually come to enjoy the natural beauty of the country. As indicated above, these tourists constitute the majority share (i.e. 46%) of the tourist inflow into the country according to the latest data. This clearly indicates a need to preserve and protect these spots, as well as provide necessary infrastructural development support to develop.

(ii) Business tourism: Around 42 % of tourists visit Bangladesh for business purposes. A number of successful international business houses have set up local entities in Bangladesh, whereby a large number of expatriates travel to Bangladesh to work/conduct business. Due to ever expanding RMG sector, large numbers of potential buyers and their delegates are required to visit the country on a regular basis.

(iii) Office Tourism: Tourists visiting Bangladesh under office tourism constituted only 1.5% of the tourist inflow to the country. This form of tourism is similar to business tourism in some aspect; however, this type predominantly focuses on the delegates of multinationals which have offices in Bangladesh. Many of these tourists arrive for tours of their local offices and provide assistance to what the offices may need.IMG_8887

(iv) Education Tourism: Education tourism is for students who want to enroll into educational institutions in the country. Many universities and other graduate level institutions organize international conferences and seminars where delegates from all over the world attend. These foreign delegates all fall under the category of educational tourism and they constituted 2.4% of the total number of tourists who visited the country.

(v) Religious Tourism: Bangladesh is a Muslim majority nation and it organizes the Bishwa Ijtema which is the largest congregation of Muslims after the Holy Pilgrimage to Makkah. This annual event alone attracts a huge number of tourists from the Muslim world and constitutes 3.4% of the total tourist inflow into Bangladesh. Other religious groups in the country are relatively much smaller in number; however, their events do attract tourists although on a smaller scale.

(vii) Other Tourism: Other forms of tourism includes bicycle touring, boat sharing, cultural tourism, dark tourism, rural tourism, river cruise, nautical tourism, halal tourism, sports tourism, slum tourism, virtual tour, walking tour, wildlife tourism and water tourism. Very often, people come for short visits to meet relatives, participate in sports and international awareness program etc.

The major two classes are Leisure Tourism and Business Tourism. Out of 100, Leisure tourism contributes 78% and rest 22% comes from Business Tourism.

The major two classes are Leisure Tourism and Business Tourism. Out of 100, Leisure tourism contributes 78% and rest 22% comes from Business Tourism.

Out of all the contribution to GDP from tourism, only 2.1% comes from Inbound Tourists and the rest 97.9% is generated from the domestic tourism. From economic point of view direct contribution of tourism in to GDP is BDT 296.6 bn. Total contribution from Tourism and its related industry is BDT 627.9 bn. The Total Employment from this industry is 19,84,000 jobs. Investment in this industry is BDT 60 bn alone in 2014-2015. Per annum growth of this industry is 6.5% and it is expected that the total contribution of tourism to the GDP would be BDT 1,252.8 bn by 2025.

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To achieve this milestone there are some bottlenecks for the development of tourism such as:

  1. Lack of tourism friendly infrastructure.
  2. Unplanned development of tourism attractive places.
  3. Absence of tourism friendly policy to develop tourism.
  4. Insufficient information on the web.
  5. Absence of professional services regarding tourism.
  6. Security issues in remote places and highways.
  7. Absence of activities and night life in tourist spots.
  8. Over pricing during peak seasons.
  9. Restriction for foreign nationals traveling in remote places.
  10. Absence of proper channel management system in tourism.

These bottlenecks won’t remain as bottlenecks if we take a few initiatives such as following:

  1. Developing a tourism friendly development policy.
  2. Strengthen the Bangladesh Tourism Board to set up tourist supporting offices all over the country.
  3. Developing the connectivity and ensure tourist friendly transportation system.
  4. Branding the tourist attractive places with necessary information and make them available on the web.
  5. Increasing the strength of Tourist Police and Highway Police for ensuring safe tourism.
  6. Developing activity based tourism friendly infrastructure in tourist attractive places.
  7. Promoting experience based tourism.
  8. Control of services price and quality.
  9. Provide necessary support to develop proper tourism supporting channel management in tourism industry.

Traditionally Bangladesh is a tourist friendly country, no matter where you are or who you are, you can get help from people regarding anything. In other countries you may take the help of GPS and Google Navigation to get proper directions, but all you need in Bangladesh is your approach to people. To roam around Bangladesh all you need is to pack your backpack and go out and speak to people. You will get all the direction and tips to roam around. Just smile at someone, approach them with words that are appropriate for their age and gender and you would be amazed by their responses. I was reading a blog in TripAdvisor by a Dutch National who was roaming around Khulna City and asked a university student for directions, the boy whom he asked for direction, bunked classes and took him to all the places where he wanted to travel and finally took him to his house to offer dinner to the foreign traveler. So there are tourism friendly social practices in our country but the lack of tourism friendly infrastructures and services are the causes behind the proper development of tourism in Bangladesh. We need to connect the dots with general people’s attitude with infrastructural supports. Bangladesh has a handful of beautiful and attractive places to offer, people here are eager to show the Bangladeshi hospitality to the tourists. Bangladesh can offer a new experience with the unique culture and explore and meet people and new ideas of life. Connecting all the dots, Bangladesh is quite a destination for travelers with rather beautiful places and pretty good astonishing services. What makes Bangladesh a unique traveler’s destination is its unique way of how “Life Happens Here” every day!

About the Author

Masuk Ur Rahman
CEO, Book2Tour.com

Photo Courtesy: Aatosh

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