the recent tsunami disaster, Asia's most thriving tourist
beaches in Indonesia, India, the Maldives and Thailand have
been washed away. Bangladesh, having the world's longest unbroken
sea-beach with hills and rare forests in the background, remained
at a safe distance from the perils. That benediction of nature
should turn Bangladesh into a safe haven for backpackers.
tourism means business of providing accommodation and services
for tourists; and a tourist is a person travelling or visiting
a place for pleasure. By a broad definition, tourism is a
hospitality industry catering to backpackers (tourists) as
well as all others on tour as business-seekers, various policy-advisers,
participants in meetings and functions and the like.
tourism guardians go by the broad definition --to reckon the
annual figure of tourist turnout they count as a tourist even
a foreign head of state or government, or a government functionary,
who comes on a serious mission to do politics or diplomacy,
not on a jaunt for pleasure. And the annual turnout figure
oscillates around 200,000 over the years.
of the tourism sector, the target, naturally, is to attract
the backpackers, holiday-makers, nature-watchers, researchers
in ecological, historical and archeological splendours and
the like. An increase in the number of tourists in the categories
of traders, investors and government functionaries would depend
on increased economic activities and geopolitical importance.
Vollmann, UNESCO representative in Bangladesh, told the opening
function of the Dhaka Travel Mart that, including the three
world heritage sites, Bangladesh has a total of 355 archaeological
sites that are currently "conserved and documented in
a poor manner".
found that with policymakers' visions blurred by domestic
political disquiet, more often than not, many potential pockets
of Bangladesh's economy remained untapped. Tourism is one.
In a span of three months, political governance is replaced
with a nonparty caretaker administration ahead of national
elections in the country. As it has nothing to do with political
jargon other than arranging the polls and doing routine government
functions, the tourism ministry, during the tenure of the
last caretaker government, gave serious thought to giving
Cox's Bazaar a facelift as a tourist resort with world-class
a follow-up action on a proposal submitted by the Bangladesh
Parjatan Corporation (BPC) to the interim government for building
necessary infrastructure for the entertainment industry. The
tourism corporation had suggested the government to declare
Cox's Bazaar as a "duty-free city" in the model
of Phuket and Chiang Mai in Thailand just across the Bay.
hotels, motels and restaurants of the corporation in different
tourist sites were to be refurbished for comfortable stay
of tourists under the plan. Reports say the present political
government also picked up the plan.
development will accelerate the economic development of the
country," said a BPC executive, echoing the recommendation
laid down in a feasibility study report many months ago.
of the Bangladesh chapter of the Asia Pacific Travel Association,
Abdul Mannan MP, a ruling party lawmaker, regretted at the
Travel Mart that the tourism industry here is "moving
very slowly as the country has so failed to identify what
to do to promote the sector".
Week got instant feedback: the Kathmandu-based International
Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) proposed
to the government that it would develop eco-tourism in the
Chittagong Hill Tracts.
DG, J Gabriel Campbell, submitted the plan to Deputy Minister
for CHT Affairs Moni Swapan Dewan, who hails from among the
indigenous community of the hilly region, measuring a tenth
of Bangladesh in territorial size.
thrives on tourism cashing in on the world's tallest mount
summit, Mount Everest, and ranges of mountains situated in
the Himalayan kingdom. Not too far, a small Muslim island-state,
the Maldives, survives on incomes from services to the tourists
flocking on the archipelago's 1,200 coral islands in the Indian
Ocean. Mauritius is also not far away.
the longest beach of the world lying in the south-eastern
district, Cox's Bazaar also stands out as a unique spot for
a retreat. Looking over the vast expanse of Bay waters, it
has a picturesque backdrop dotted with unending ranges of
hills. On the high seas there are a number of islets that
present eye-catching scenes.
hours' voyage by trawlers can take an excursionist to Southeast
Asian lands across the Bay while land and air trips to other
South Asian countries. Apart from sightseers and holidaymakers,
there is immense potential for attracting business tourists
here as Bangladesh's main seaport of Chittagong is nearby
and is the gateway to South and Southeast of Asia.
meantime, Chittagong and Chiang Mai have been linked by airway.
In the latest development, the Bangladesh-Myanmar Friendship
Highway would open up a vast eastern horizon.
Sundarbans, the largest mangrove forest in the world, lies
along the coast of the Bay in the south-western corner, with
the country's second seaport situated close by. The vast panorama
of flora and fauna is home for a specious population of wildlife,
the world-famous Royal Bengal Tiger and spotted dear leading
a long list of species.
country is blessed with such natural wealth, tourism experts
said. Malaysia, a byword for development in present times,
has got a big mangrove forest. But the Mastang forest is second
to the Sundarbans, only in respect of area, not on the count
of huge bio-diversity.
is cashing in on it to the full, adding value to the gift
of nature as well as other kinds of tourism products through
the use of modern know-how. Tourism is an important part of
life in developed countries where people have enough and more
to spare. But how many of them have ever seen this captivating
tourist haunt like the Sundarbans?
Temple in Dinajpur is the largest terracotta temple in the
world. According to a report, a former Director General of
UNESCO in Bangladesh, on his visit to the temple, had given
his opinion that the temple could be a world heritage. "The
government department concerned may apply to UNESCO for the
designation of the temple as world heritage site," he
was quoted as saying.
landlocked country of arid hills like Nepal has 12 world heritage
sites. To attract international eco-tourists to Bangladesh
in larger numbers, the country needs to get UNESCO recognition
for the world-class national heritages that it has in its
needed now is develop the tourism products and ensure foolproof
security in the tourist resorts. The exchequer certainly has
the means and funds to spend on both and the authorities,
of late, have fixed the choice. However, wavering and foot-dragging
are all too evident in these areas.
Rashidul Hasan, professor of Marketing at Dhaka University,
has suggested that foreign investors may be allowed to develop
tourism "at par their taste, demand and standard in some
exclusive islands of Bangladesh".
things are now learnt to be moving fast towards building attractive
tourist resorts in the offshore islands. A high-level meeting
on January 16, 2005 declared St. Martin's Island in the heart
of the Bay as a restricted zone.
the plan, tourist resorts will be built interconnecting islands
and islets from Inani Beach to St Martin's Island with improved
communications network, strict security arrangement and modern
recreation facilities at affordable costs.
is one of the vital economic sectors. Developing the sector
can help, to a great extent, check the trafficking of women
out of the country on false promises of jobs and then being
abused in foreign lands. It can also prevent children being
traded out for drudgery, being pegged to slow death playing
as camel jockeys of Middle-Eastern monarchs.
(R) thedailystar.net 2005