Tourism sector yet to flourish

Illegal casino activities engulf the nation


Despite having the longest natural sea beach in the world and other potentials, country’s tourism sector has not yet flourished as per expectation. 

And that is why practices of illegal casino and other gambling activities has engulfed the nation.

The then 1996 government under Prime MInister Sheikh Hasina initiated exclusive tourist zones, and a Bangladesh Tourism Board was formed in 2009, but the initiative is yet to bring forth any fruits due to mysterious reasons. It has been abandoned for over a decade. 

Again, the government has initiated to adopt a ‘Tourism Masterplan’ for giving a thrust to the country’s overall economic and social development.

Planned to implement the tourism master plan in a rewarding and efficient way, the government has taken short, medium and long term plans for exploiting full potential of Bangladesh’s untapped tourism sector through attracting more foreign tourists here.

With great potentials for its further expansion and diversification, the authority concerned can go for promoting visitor-friendly tradition and turning beaches, forests, landscapes, rivers and mountain peaks into things of great attractions.

With different tourism product branding, once the master plans are implemented with the brand icons, the industry will now a get a new shape with all modern amenities. And the number of foreign tourists will increase gradually. 

Seeking anonymity a good number industry concerned opined that, many countries have been developing big casinos in their respective regions within their bounds in order to attract more tourists. 

Obviously, a more robust tourism environment is good for the economy as it brings in not only more money but also more recognition and possible investors, they said adding, besides, tourists often want to be sure that they are experiencing everything a city has to offer. So if the tourists have the same old food and beer they could find anywhere else, you might have a hard time attracting them. 

Tourism Resort Industries Association of Bangladesh President Khabir Uddin Ahmed said, “We are not far behind than Nepal or Malaysia. We have more places of natural beauty then these countries. But due to lack of branding and modern facilities, we are falling behind”.

Shafique Alam Mehdi, former secretary of civil aviation and tourism ministry while talking to The Bangladesh Post said, during the first tenure of the present government, under his supervision the Bangladesh Tourism Board was formed in 2009 to promote the industry further. 

He said “At that time, the Prime Minister asked me to set up an exclusive tourist zone and we searched for the location at Cox’s Bazar and a foreign investor also came forward to invest in such project”. 

“Later, the Prime Minister asked me to develop the Cox’s Bazar Airport into the international standard airport in the same year. Within a month, I submitted the DPP to ECNEC”, he added. 

But it is now 2019, the industry has not yet seen any tangible advancement. Our Prime Minister (PM) has a big vision but there are less people, who can work in tune with the PM, he added. 

When contacted, the concerned ministry secretary Muhibul Haque told The Bangladesh Post that in the last one-decade the industry was unable to grow as expected, even there were less allocations for the ministry in the budget. 

“As the government is very much concerned about the industry, soon we will see some visible development, and the construction work for exclusive tourist zone will start this December,” he added.

While asking about the modern amenities, the secretary said, once the project is completed, the government will decide what amenities should be there.  

It is to be noted, both tourism and foreign affairs ministries are working together to convince those countries, who issued travel alerts after the tragic incident of Holy Artisan, to lift the advisories for their citizens regarding visit to Bangladesh.

Due to lack of proper planning, previously some branding fair initiatives went in vain. On the other hand, poor publicity or marketing of the country’s major tourism attraction is another hurdles on way to the tourism development. The country lacks awareness among the people about the tourism and inadequate facilities at the tourism spots, and even the government websites do not have adequate information to know about tourism. 

Despite having huge potentialities, the tourism industry is still unable to get fully prepared to be one of major remittance earners of the country.  Civil aviation and tourism state minister Md Mahabub Ali said positive growth tendency in the tourism industry is being witnessed for the last couple of years. A good number of initiatives under the present government led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, are already flourishing the industry. Once the entire project taken up by the government to develop the sector is completed, people both from the domestic and international arena will find a new Bangladesh. The day is not too far away when the sector will be the main one in earning foreign remittance.