Creates 12 lakh job opportunities
Special Correspondent: Cox’s Bazar, the tourism capital of Bangladesh, could be the billion dollar income hub, if proper development, especially an international airport could be built up. Cox’s Bazar is now ready for host foreign tourists, considering the security, accommodation and amusement providing elements.
It is found surrounding the sea beach that at least 500 hotels including 30 star hotels, furnished flats, international standard resorts and restaurants were grown up.
The security system is tightened by the professional tourist policy, guides and other security agencies with the connivance of district administration.
Though Bangladesh does not get a big number of foreign tourists, it has millions of domestic tourists who go for vacations often.
According to different tour operators, local hotels, motels and transport services the number of domestic tourists rose to 1.50 crore in 2019 from 1.00 crore a year earlier.
And, December is the second busiest month after July for tourism in Bangladesh, as the schools break up for winter vacations then.
According to the local sources, every tourist spent in an average Tk 25,000, which means 1.50 crore tourists spent total of Tk 37,500 crore yearly in Cox’s Bazar. This money definitely circulates in the districts’ overall economy, the sources added.
“We have no room to rent until March 25,” said the general manager of Hotel Best Western Heritage, located on the beachfront Kolatoli at Cox’s Bazar.
The hotel has more than 200 rooms and the prices range from Tk 4,000 to Tk 9,000 a room per night. Moreover, many corporate companies have booked the banquette halls for annual conference or meeting.
The middle- and higher middle-class now love to spend money for recreation and leisure purposes, said Santus Kumar Deb, assistance professor of the department of tourism and hospitality management of the University of Dhaka.
Referring to his research findings, he said the middle-class spend Tk 15,000 to Tk 20,000 per year, while the higher middle-class spend more than Tk 80,000 a year for tourism.
Many Bangladeshis go abroad for recreation due to lack of facilities in the country.
About 25 lakh people visited India last year and 7 lakh Thailand, he said, adding that several lakh Bangladeshis go to Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia a year for tourism.
However, an official of the Indian embassy in Dhaka said they issued 17 lakh visas in 2018. But the number of tourists may be higher as they get visas for one year with multiple entries.
The market size of domestic tourism reached Tk 50,000 crore in 2019 while it was not more than Tk 500 crore 10 years earlier, said the sources of Bangladesh Tour Operators Association.
The hotels, motels, resorts, restaurants and other logistic sectors in Cox’s Bazar have created job opportunities for around 1200,000 people.
“Domestic tourism is booming, but there is no hard data on it,” said a source of Bangladesh Tourism Board, a state-owned agency.
The tourism board recorded 778,143 inbound tourists last year and the country made revenue of $97.05 million from foreign tourists.
Tourism has become one of the largest and fastest growing economic sectors in the world over the past few years. Bangladesh, being located in the connecting point of South and South East Asian countries, has the potential to become a leader in the sector with a land full of natural beauty.
According to a recent study of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), one in five jobs created globally over the last five years is attributable to travel and tourism.
With the travel and tourism sector contributing 4 per cent of the total employment in Bangladesh in 2019, it has a bright prospect both at home and abroad.
As many as 2,414,400 jobs were created in Bangladesh in this sector in 2018. It is expected to reach 3,155,300 by 2019, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) report.
The report is good news for the Bangladeshi market, but it said it will depend on sustainable development of this sector, the industry insider said.
The number of foreign tourists will increase within a couple of years, if Bangladesh can improve infrastructure services and has an adequate marketing policy, say industry experts. They have also urged initiatives to overcome these obstacles.
However, the number of foreign tourists coming to Bangladesh is small compared to the number of Bangladeshi outbound tourists. According to the Bangladesh Tourism Board (BTB), only 267,000 foreign tourists have come to Bangladesh in 2018.
Expressing his views on foreign tourists, Dr Bhubon Chandra Biswas, chief executive officer of Bangladesh Tourism Board (BTB), said: “Inadequate infrastructure facilities, low-quality food, expensive hotels, and poor marketing policy are the prime reasons behind the small number of foreign tourists.”
Comprehensive development is needed to lure foreign tourists and for this coordinated efforts are required, added Biswas.
Various airlines, tourism companies, hotels and resorts offered discounts at the fair. There were various packages for Hajj celebrations and other packages including medical tours.
National flag carrier Biman Bangladesh offered discounts on four domestic and five international routes at the fair.
“We offered 20 per cent discount on five international destinations-Singapore, Delhi, Bangkok, Kathmandu, and Kolkata, as well as 10 per cent on four domestic routes-Cox’s Bazar, Syedpur, Rajshahi, and Barisal,” said Tabibur Rahman, revenue operations analyst, at Biman Bangladesh.
Mostafizur Rahman, accounts supervisor of Biman, said they offered 20 per cent cash discount on air tickets for Kathmandu, Bangkok, Singapore, Delhi and Kolkata. In addition, a five per cent discount was given to various destinations within the country.
Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation (BPC) looks after the tourism sector in Bangladesh under the ministry of civil aviation and tourism.
Tourism can be classified in a number of ways based on the nature of activity, location type or duration of stay such as heritage tourism, cultural tourism, historical tourism, geo-tourism, adventure tourism, eco-tourism, agro-tourism.
A coordinated effort is needed to take up a leading position in the tourism industry as the sector is a composite of activities and services that deliver transportation, accommodation, food, shopping, entertainment and hospitality services available for the travelers, experts said.
All these activities can enhance the economic development process by creating jobs, developing infrastructure and entrepreneurial skills, improving balance of payments, earning foreign exchanges and export revenues, they added.