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     Volume 7 Issue 12 | March 21, 2008 |

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Cricket Can Boost Tourism

Mohammad Shahidul Islam

The growing popularity of cricket in Bangladesh can reshape the country's tourism industry. As cricket and style go together, so should cricket fans and their tours. That cricket boosts tourism can be seen from developments in the West Indies, Dubai, Sharjah and India.

The West Indies is the archetype for tourism development through cricket. They have marketed tourism through cricket since the first World Cup held in 1975. Sharjah, India, Australia, South Africa and Sri Lanka have attracted more tourists ever since they emerged as well known cricket venues, especially because sports tourists prefer to choose sports destinations for recreation and entertainment.

After participating in the World Cup, the Bangladeshi team is regarded as giant-killers, having toppled big teams. Known for not following a well-planned path for tourist development, Bangladesh could exploit cricket to promote its tourism industry.

Someday, Bangladesh could possibly win the World Cup and may not be far away from realising their dream of developed tourism. Nature has blessed Bangladesh with diversity and it has all that an international sports fan looks for.

Cricket commentators and media partners play a significant role in bringing the country and its sporting venues into the spotlight. Questions such as what are the venues like, what is their significance, how do the people or players of that particular country occupy themselves during terms of leisure, what do they shop for and where do they go -- everything catches the imagination of the millions of cricket fans all across the world.

Dhaka is now known among cricket fans the world over. The resort city, Cox's Bazaar has the potential for becoming a fine venue for international cricket as well.

Sports remain the harbinger of friendship and peace. All over the world cricket is next to soccer in popularity but cricket is to Bangladesh what soccer is to Brazil. The zeal and sense of competition with which the game is played is worth watching. Existing trends show that Bangladesh will always have a busy cricketing calendar. With cricket teams the fans also move from one country to another or from one part of a country to another.

Hotels remain booked for a couple of days, before and after the events. New hotels and motels will soon come up to accommodate the growing number of cricket tourists. An online booking system could do wonders. Hotels and motels in Bangladesh will have to gear up for new businesses. Bangladesh will host the World Cup 2011 along with India and Pakistan. Venues like Chittagong, Dhaka, Bogra, Narayanganj, Sylhet, Rajshahi, Comilla and Cox's Bazaar can be, some of them already are, famous for cricket as well as attractive tourist destinations. Potential investors have expressed their interest in setting up big and quality hotels in Cox's Bazaar. Having already invested thousands of dollars, they can expect good returns.

Mohammad Shahidul Islam is a Freelance Contributor to The Daily Star.


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