Tourism business in Bangladesh
A country’s touristy appeal depends largely on its history, archaeology, natural beauty and old palaces. From this point of view, Bangladesh can claim to be a historic country as it was known as Gangaridai meaning Nation on the River Ganges.
It was an ancient state founded around 300 BC where Bengal region (Bangladesh and Paschim Bangla) lies today according to information available from Wikipedia. Greek, Latin and Egyptian accounts about Gangaridai suggested that the country was located in the deltaic region of South Bengal.
Wari Bateshwar another site near the capital is believed to have been urbanised from 6th century BC and is the oldest archaeological site of the country. So the present day landmass which constitute Bangladesh has a rich past and can justifiably claim to have many tourist attractions, which indeed, are spread all over the country: Mahasthangarh (3rd century BC), Paharpur (8th century AD), Moinamoti (8th century AD), beaches, forests, hills, tribal, culture, dance and music, cottage industry, large river ways, agriculture etc.
In many meetings, conferences, talk shows, seminars and travel fairs held in Dhaka the principle speakers including the tourism minister and senior tourism officials speak about tourist arrivals and tourism revenue. But these figures are not accepted as reliable by many users, because their mode of collection is not often dependable.
The “tourist arrival” figures are calculated on a monthly basis by the police department from reports at the entry check points and not by professionals. The foreign exchange figures are released by the Bangladesh Bank on the basis of returns furnished by the stakeholders of the tourism industry.
While reports from tourism earnings are regular, the reports on tourist arrivals lag behind by years for reasons known to the government. During the last five years (2006-2010) Bangladesh received a total number of 15, 29, 000 visitors and earned US$ 413.00 million.
In order to make these figures more reliable at the national and at the international levels, steps should be taken by the government to modernise the methods of collecting such statistics. There is a Tourism Satellite Accounting System for aggregating the figures of tourist arrivals and earnings, which have been introduced by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).
Bangladesh, a founding member of the UNWTO, should avail this technical assistance from UNTWO under the ‘digital’ Bangladesh programme for streamlining these compilations.
The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) and UNWTO reports say that international arrivals have been positive in 2012, although in the Euro Zone, due to sovereign debt issues and national austerity policies, tourism spending has declined. The pace of growth in the developing countries, including Bangladesh, is faster than in developed nations.