Tourism industry can pay a pragmatic role in boosting the country’s GDP if the sector is taken care of properly. While other big cities across the world are tourism-centric, our metropolitan cities including the capital, Dhaka, fall much short of that quality.
So what requires most is a grand vision that could, since now on, transform the architectural features of the cities as well as the tourist destinations, and bring more tourists to the country, so said Dr Md Nasir Uddin, an additional secretary to the government of Bangladesh.
The Chief Executive Officer of Bangladesh Tourism Board recently sat with the Dhaka Tribune’s Ishtiaq Husain to give his insight on how proper initiatives can help Bangladesh tap into the potentials of tourism industry.
We targeted to bring 10 lakh foreign tourists. What is its progress?
The government focuses not only on inbound tourism but also domestic tourism. Recently, domestic tourism growth is enthusiastic. In a year, around 90 lakh domestic tourists travel across the country. Meanwhile, we would be able to bring over 10 lakh foreign tourists by 2018.
Do you think Rohingya can be a threat to tourism, specially in Cox’s Bazar?
If we can manage Rohingya refugees properly, it would not be a problem at all. We have no alternative, but to look upon the Rohigya issue on humanitarian ground. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s humane attitude towards the issue is praiseworthy. Her initiative has been lauded by the global leaders. So if we can control the movement of Rohingya refugees using our previous experiences, we can overcome the problem.
Can Padma Multi-purpose Bridge be a tourist spot?
Well, to make it an attractive tourist centre, we have to do something fascinating. We need to acquire land adjacent to the bridge area to make a beautiful park beside the Padma River. The park could be run under the government or private initiative. Whatever we do needs a quick decision.
Why are we lagging behind in tourism sector?
The key is to have a vision of tourism, which we are lacking in. It is high time we got to think about how to promote tourism. You know Cox’s Bazar airport should have been transformed into an international airport 46 years ago, plus the tourist destination should have been connected with rail communication, but it was too late to do all these.
How can we attract tourist to city tourism?
All roads across the capital city should have been eight lanes while they struggle to accommodate the growing number of traffic at present. Those involved with city planning did not have such vision. They failed to make plan considering the importance of tourism. Besides the longest sea beach in the world, we have to explore many new places to draw tourists from home and abroad.
Do you have any suggestion to promote tourism?
We have to build many things putting the importance of tourism first. If you look at Singapore or Dubai, you will find that all their structures are tourism-centric. Their building activities are maintained by their government departments. Moreover, it is very necessary to complete Sabrang exclusive tourist zone as soon as possible.