Potential of tourism still remains unrealised: Study (The Financial express.....04.11.2018)
Inadequate infrastructure, poor accommodation facility cited as key barriersSource: http://today.thefinancialexpress.com.bd/trade-market/potential-of-tourism-still-remains-unrealised-study-1541259960
Tourism could become one of the key export-earning service sectors of Bangladesh if some key challenges including inadequate infrastructure facilities were met, a study said. The study also identified poor accommodation facility and foreigners' little accessibility to the country's tourism information as impediments. It suggested establishing exclusive tourist zone equipped with modern facilities for foreigners, developing ecotourism and adventure tourism, enhancing the country's image and creating skilled manpower to attract foreign tourists. The study titled 'Export potentials of trade in services in Bangladesh: identifying the opportunities and challenges' was conducted by Bangladesh Foreign Trade Institute (BFTI). Published recently, the study was conducted for strengthening institutional capacity and human resources development for trade promotion project, (EIF Tier-1) under WTO Cell of the Ministry of Commerce.
The study looked into four service sectors namely tourism, freight transportation, computer and human health related services.
About tourism and travel related service in Bangladesh, the study said the sector is highly potential trade in services to bring in huge foreign currencies in coming years. Total contribution of tourism and travel sector to the GDP of Bangladesh was Tk 840.2 billion or 4.3 per cent of the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2016, it said.
"The sector is expected to grow by 7.1 per cent per year raising the total contribution of Tk 1,783 billion or 4.7 per cent to the country's GDP by 2027," the study said quoting reference from the World Travel and Tourism Council ((WTTC). The tourism sector is closely interconnected with many other service sectors having the capacity to generate positive effects on various areas of socio-economic development of the country, it added.
"In addition, cultural diversity and inherent welcoming nature of Bangladeshi people have created a favourable environment to attract foreign tourists and augment foreign exchange earnings," it said. Despite having immense prospect for development of the tourism sector, Bangladesh has not been able to reap much benefit from the sector due to some challenges including lack of basic and tourism infrastructures and accommodation facilities, the study said. The country still lags behind in tourism for not having an adequate number of skilled tour operators and tourist guides with proficiency in languages like English. Some other weaknesses are dearth of modern recreational facilities, safety and security for foreign tourists. Besides, poor condition in terms of the country's ICT readiness, health, hygiene, air transport infrastructure and higher charges in hotels were also held responsible for failure to attract tourists beyond Bangladesh's borders. The study presented a set of recommendations based on opinions from different stakeholders.
It suggested establishing exclusive tourist zones in major tourist destinations like Cox's Bazar, Kuakata and St Martin's Island especially for the foreigners. It also said the zones must be equipped with facilities and recreational services of international standards. The hilly areas of Bandarban and Khagrachhari can be developed as adventure tourism destinations, the study said, adding that adequate and quality roads and highways need to be built. Mentioning the government's move to promote the sector, the study said the government of Bangladesh has designed several policies, like the Mid-Term Budgetary Framework (MTBF) under the umbrella of the 7th Five Year Plan.
In addition, the government declared tourism as an industry, and the calendar year 2016 as 'Tourism Year' with several fiscal and monetary incentives for the development of this sector. Tourism is also considered a special development service sector under Export Policy 2015-2018, the study mentioned. When contacted, a director of Tour Operators Association of Bangladesh (TOAB) Syed Shafat Uddin Ahmed Tomal said lack of infrastructure is a major obstacle to attracting overseas tourists.
Inadequate road transport facility, severe traffic jam and frequent movements occupying the streets continue to challenge the sector.
Besides, there is a lack of required international standard hotels and exclusive tourist zones, he said.
"If you can find a solution to visible obstacles like infrastructures, you can overcome the intangible challenges including security, unavailability of skilled manpower and language barrier," he said.