Tourism is one of the world’s largest and fastest growing industries of Bangladesh. To take out the best use of the tourism Government of Bangladesh has taken different kinds initiatives. One of the groundbreaking steps is to encourage more women travelers to travel around the Bangladesh.
Bangladesh Tourism Board is now focusing more on increasing the number of women travelers for inbound tourism. The primary target is to aware the women travelers about inbound tourism and encourage them to travel more.
Women travel statistics (UN Women) indicate that women consumers now drive the world travel economy. Women are earning more, spending more and influencing all levels of the travel industry. Women’s purchasing power in the travel segment has never been higher.
Travelling has no limits. Whether it’s male or female. They are not so different. So why do people make such a big deal out of solo female travelers? Because, like it or not, women and men do have different concerns when it comes to traveling, especially when alone. Not only in Bangladesh but in all over the world, women travelers experience some hitches while travelling alone.
The Author identified six key problems that are apprehending women travelers to travel alone.
A focus group discussion with 6 women travelers of Bangladesh along with direct observation, and a range of secondary sources has been used to collect the qualitative data.
From the analysis, women travelers accused disapproval of Family and Friends as the major barrier of travelling alone. Typical Bangladeshi family and their mindsets are yet to take it easy to let their daughter travelling alone or sometimes even in group.
Secondly, Sexual Assaults & Eve Teasing came to the point. Unfortunately, it is true that women are much more likely than men to be the victims of sexual harassment and sexual assault. It is not only rape, but at times women have also experienced eve teasing. It is very likely that a woman traveler may experience harassments in the form of rude, lewd comments, staring, etc. Men ‘scrubbing against’ or probing women is very common when travelling in public transport or when moving in crowded areas.
Another important problem identified through this research is facing harassment while Booking Hotels. The author herself faced problems while booking hotels for their honeymoon. Stereotyped mentality of many yet to accept the women traveling. Many of the hotel managers don’t allow women to reserve hotel by or for themselves
Personal hygiene may be an issue, especially during the period. Some women travelers avoid or feel uncomfortable to travel Banderban or any other adventurous tour due to this. In the rural parts it’s hard to maintain good hygiene. In a group tour, women are being discouraged to travel by reason of unhygienic and unavailability of clean Public Toilets
Another important finding from the discussion is lack of physical fitness of women travelers. There is a say that women are not physically fit enough to travel to adventurous tour like mountain hiking. It is a stereotyped opinion from fellow male travelers while traveling to a group.
Other than the above mentioned reasons, responsibilities women can’t leave behind, is another major issue that is apprehending women travelers specially married women. In our society, it is quite common to see women taking much more responsibilities of their family then men.
Traveling is just like being at home: where the travelers have to understand their surroundings and act accordingly. Adapt as much as possible by doing research on what to wear, how to carry, and what is acceptable behavior. With the right preparation and understanding of the culture and the environments, traveling of a woman in Bangladesh as a solo female can be safe.
To overcome these problems different stakeholders are also working and trying to resolve to make Bangladesh a women friendly travel place. Some suggestions can be taken into to the account to encourage and upturn the number of women travelers in Bangladesh.
1. Before traveling alone or in a group, ask permission from parents.
2. Attend group tours.
3. Women can avoid travelling alone at night.
4. Cabs should be hired from reliable sources from the hotel itself.
5. Women tourists should observe strict security precautions.
6. Preferably they should travel with known and trustworthy companions.
7. Evening fun should be restricted to well-known venues only and isolated areas should be avoided at any time of the day.
8. Hotel room number should be kept confidential and doors should have deadlocks and peep holes.
9. Female tourists should dress decently and respect local customs.
10. Take personal hygiene kits with while traveling.
11. Talk or take advice of other women travelers while traveling to a new place.
12. Don’t be afraid to ask about the security situation where there is any prior incidents that may have occurred in the area.
Finally, Things are not as bad as it seems to be. Be smart. Be prepared. Stay safe, but don’t stay home. Travel Bangladesh, our beautiful Bangladesh.
Sabiha Matin Bipasha
Lecturer, Department of Business Administration, Daffodil International University