POST TIME: 14 October, 2019 00:00 00 AM
Marketing to boost tourism necessary

Marketing to boost tourism necessary

With a growing middle class across the globe that has disposable cash and the economic power provided by credit cards and bank loans, traveling overseas for holidays and relaxation is now an essential aspect of life. In Bangladesh, the decades after independence were marked by austerity, stringency plus privation and the only focus of the middle class was to make ends meet and survive. Those times are long gone with most middle class Bangladeshis affording foreign travel almost every year simply for pleasure. Almost 60-70 lakh people within the country also travel to spectacular spots like the Sunderbans, Saint Martin’s Island, Cox’s Bazar and the Hill Tracts for short visits. However, the number of foreign tourists coming to Bangladesh is small compared to the number of Bangladeshi outbound tourists.

According to the Bangladesh Tourism Board (BTB), only 2,67,000 foreign tourists have come to Bangladesh in 2018. In the past, lack of proper infrastructure and hotels were pointed out as the main hindrances for tourism in Bangladesh though that allegation can now be easily refuted since the country has several world class resorts in Sylhet, Cox’s Bazar and other districts, providing the ultimate in luxury topped with all conceivable creature comforts. The reason why the number of foreign tourists to Bangladesh is low is because the country has lagged behind in proper tourism marketing.

Compared to other South Asian countries like Bhutan, Nepal, the Maldives and of course, India, the marketing of Bangladesh as a tourist haven has been somewhat muted and perfunctory. There is no denying that the challenge of getting foreigners to choose Bangladesh above the other South Asian neighbours is tough – all the four nations have been on the tourism map for ages and Bangladesh’s political volatility along with the false perception of conservative restrictions often worked to deter foreigners.  For over two decades, Bangladesh has been a stable country and the general outlook of the people and the zeitgeist is remarkably tolerant and progressive. These need to be fed to the world market packaged with the alluring spots of the country, from beaches to green islands to hilly resorts to tea gardens.

While these natural attributes can be found in India, Thailand and Malaysia, the tag line promoting Bangladesh should emphasise on un-spoilt nature found in this country along with a less crowded retreat. To achieve this, the marketing strategy needs to be aggressive, creative and to an extent, novel. As a first step, the national carrier, Biman, can begin to offer special holiday packages to several tourist destinations in Bangladesh, promoted through embassies overseas.