Imtiaz Muqbil writes an article in the Bangkok post analyzing the obstacles in attracting tourists in Bangladesh discussed at a seminar in Thailand arranged by UN & World Tourism Organization.
"Boasting major attractions like the world's longest beach at Cox's Bazaar and the ecological magnificence of the Sunderbans, the world's largest littoral mangrove belt, and one of the world's biggest Buddhist monasteries at Paharpur, Bangladesh feels it deserves more visitors."But there are some appalling facts:
* Only 39,840 actual tourists in 2004.
* The tourism council formed in 1992 and chaired by the Prime Minister seems to be in hibernation.
* In 2003-04, the Tourism Corporation, which is responsible for marketing, was given only 10 million taka (about US$158,000). But for the fiscal years 2004-05 and 2005-06, "no funds have been allocated" making it impossible to conduct marketing campaigns in a highly competitive market. No wonder why people question about the quality of promotional materials and their distribution.
* Complicated visa formalities and irritating attitudes of the employees in most of the Bangladesh missions abroad discourage many tourists. Visa procedures should be simplified. Facilities for visa on arrival should be reintroduced for as many countries as possible.
* Bangladesh has taken little measures to counter its "negative image abroad" as a country that faces "abject poverty, floods and cyclones".
I only hope that the government takes up these issues seriously and see some efforts in bringing more tourists to Bangladesh. I am particularly surprised why there is no significant budget for the Parjatan Corporation. If you do not spend money in infrastructural developments and promotions, how can you wish having more tourists?