Inbound tourism limited to business travel, leisure remains unexplored

Alexander Haeusler, General Manager, Radisson Blu Dhaka says
- A Monitor Report16 Oct, 2019 | 868 Views|-+
Dhaka : Most of the international tourism in Bangladesh is limited to business travel, whilst opportunities in the leisure and pleasure sectors remain widely unexploited.

Alexander Haeusler, General Manager, Radisson Blu Dhaka Water Garden said this at a trade seminar held at ICCB on the subject of "Tourism Connectivity in BIMSTEC Region" as part of the Asian Tourism Fair on September 28.

The seminar was chaired by M Shahidul Islam, Secretary General of BIMSTEC while Dr Damaru Ballabha Paudel, Director of BIMSTEC was the key note speaker.

One of the participating panelists was Alexander Haeusler, General Manager, Radisson Blu Dhaka Water Garden. In his speech, he urged the Bangladesh Tourism Board to keep track of international tourist arrivals to Bangladesh and set targets for the coming years.

He suggested the government, public tourism institutions and the private sector to form a task force to establish a plan of action to promote Bangladesh globally. Initially the campaign should focus on India and China as key inbound markets due to their geographical proximity and large populations.

Haeusler also suggested creating a visa-free zone for BIMSTEC and ASEAN countries similar to the Schengen zone comprising of 26 European Nations. He also expressed concern over the many travel advisories issued by foreign governments and suggested local authorities to work together closely in order to request foreign missions to lower their risk assessments for Bangladesh.

Haeusler furthermore recommended to develop and promote three of the world's largest natural tourist sites available in Bangladesh: world's largest mangrove jungle - Sundarbans, world's largest unbroken natural beach - Cox Bazar and world's largest river delta - Ganges and Brahmaputra.

Haeusler stressed on the importance of developing tourist zones with entertainment facilities in order to meet the expectations of international travellers.

In his presentation he urged local authorities to preserve natural heritage sites such as Panam City (Lost City). Bangladesh has already three UNESCO World Heritage Sites, but needs to strive for more site accreditations in order to remain competitive amongst other BIMESTEC nations.

He added, "Bangladesh enables tourists to discover unseen and unforgettable impressions due to its traditional lifestyle infused by tribal, ethnic cultures. Tourists are able to collect unique impressions in a one of a kind journey back in time."

Marking the 50th anniversary of Bangladesh's Independence in 2021, the government and tourism board will embark on a year-long promotion to celebrate the nation's freedom. The occasion will unite people in rejoicing the historical significance and organise a series of national festivals.

Haeusler believes the events will provide an opportunity to pave the way for Bangladesh to establish itself as an international tourist destination. He recommended the tourism board to capitalise on the recently won South Asian Travel Award (SATA), where Bangladesh won in the Emerging Destination category. This will create a unique momentum to propel the nation's image showcasing the rich heritage, diverse culture and hospitality of Bangladesh.

He recommended local tourism authorities to launch a destination video under the slogan "Memorable Bangladesh". He added, "National tourism sales offices will have to be established in key feeder markets possibly in form of shared institutions represented by BIMSTEC nations. Participation in major international trade shows will be required in order to encourage travel agents to organize familiarisation trips to "Memorable Bangladesh".

Haeusler concluded that the tourism sector in Bangladesh has the potential to become one of the main foreign currency contributors. As such the sector should be stimulated and supported with fiscal incentives and tax rebates as well as reduction of duties related to imported goods and equipment.

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