With the process of globalization, the tourism sector has been fast developing as a sustainable source of revenue-earning sector. With the opening up of infinite facilities of rapid transportation and incredibly fast communication, the traditional mindset of the people across the globe has been radically changed over the recent years.
Now a family even with a modest income plans out to go for at least an annual sight-seeing tour either somewhere inside the country or if possible somewhere beyond the border. In this context of changed reality, the floodgates of endless prospects and possibilities for earning fabulous revenues have been clearly opened up before the countries with tourist potentialities.
Bangladesh has been naturally blessed with a bonanza of untapped tourist potentialities. We can truly boast of possessing the longest sea-beach of the world - the Cox’s Bazar. Besides, we are blessed with the largest mangrove forest like the Sundarbans. The unique biodiversity of the Sundarbans, especially the world famous trademark species of the Bengal Tiger, is an extraordinary possession of envy for others. The lush green vegetation carpeting the hilly tracts of Rangamati, Bandarbans and Khagrachari still cast an alluring spell on any foreign tourists who happen to have a chance basking in the hospitalities in these warmest laps of nature. In addition, the serene and tranquil beauty in the luxury of the tea gardens and the lakes of Sylhet simply spell-bound any foreign guests who once venture to explore these areas.
Apart from scenic spots, Bangladesh is inherently rich with heritages and antiques traced back into long three thousand years. For instance, the oldest city of Bangladesh and perhaps the most ancient one in the sub-continent known as Pundrabardhan, locally dubbed as Mahastan Gorh, is located in Bogra district of the Northern Bangladesh. Though it is usually taken to be the Melting Pot of four ancient civilizations like Mourya, Pala, Gupta and Muslim, concrete traces and evidences of some cross-continental civilizations have also been found through archaeological excavations. Other most prominent cultural as well as historical sites include Paharpur Buddhist Monastary, Moynamoti Buddhist Monastery, Sona masjid of Chapainababganj, the Shat Gombuz Mosque in Bagerhat etc. In fact, the list will simply be exhaustive once we prepare just one under the heading as the architectural diversity of Bengal mosques.
Unfortunately, none of the landmark tourist spots of Bangladesh is yet to be exposed globally. While on a 10-day long tour in India only recently, I cursorily asked a gentleman of Kolkata if he had ever heard the name of the Cox’s Bazar. The answer of the man utterly disappointed me. He replied that he had never heard the name of Cox’s Bazar. If such is the ground reality then it is easily understandable that we are yet to make known our pride possession - the longest sea-beach of Cox’s Bazar even beyond the nearest border, let alone to the global scene.
Compared to Nepal, Maldives, Sri Lanka and India, the tourism sector in Bangladesh has been performing quite poorly. Although we are blessed with 800 genuine tourist spots spread over the length and breadth of the country, this highly potential revenue-earning sector until now contributes just over 4% to the GDP which is on no ground acceptable to any sensible person of Bangladesh. While roaming through India, I have seen that each and every tourist spot that I have visited are maintained in a prim and proper way right under the strict managerial surveillance. Thousands of foreign tourists frequent these spots because of full-proof security and cooperation are ensured to the foreigners. So, why not the tourism industry of India will thrive?
Lack of strategic development and marketing failure has been eating into the very vitals of the highly promising tourism industry of Bangladesh over the years. Our tourism sector’s fanfare and enthusiasm seem to be confined only to the observance of World Tourism Day in a grand fashion. The real spirit and commitment to develop our tourism industry from the grassroots evaporates just with the passing of the day.
In order to develop and flourish our prospective tourism industry on a solid footing, we have to make tourism a part of our way of life. We have to be cooperative towards foreigners in the heartiest possible way. In addition, we must extend all possible facilities and amenities to the foreigners allocating if necessary a big budget for building the essential infrastructures needed for the promotion of this sector. Above all, the government must take the initiative to involve people of all walks of life in this connection. Finally, we have to remember that unless and until we make tourism a social movement, any tangible development in this sector is hardly possible in this highly competitive market of tourism.
The writer is an Assistant Professor of English, Bogra Cantonment Public School &College.E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org