From sandy beaches to mangrove forests, there is a lot Bangladesh has to offer to foreign tourists.
As the three-day tourism fair organised by Tour Operators Association of Bangladesh kicks off today, it must be asked: What is holding Bangladesh back?
Bangladesh, as a tourist destination, has generally not seemed as attractive to foreign tourists as our neighbouring India or Nepal, to say nothing of the Southeast Asian nations, which rely on tourism for a substantial portion of their national income.
Quite simply, Bangladesh needs to become more tourist-friendly.
This begins by increasing the safety and comfort level of travellers of all kinds, and making available for them all the facilities and resources they may desire.
Fear of harassment or assault can keep many tourists at bay -- and we need to assure potential travellers that they are our guests, and will be safe here during their stay.
There has been an absence of proper planning in the tourism sector, as can be seen in comparison to other countries like Cambodia, which started off behind Bangladesh, but has since overtaken us in terms of number of visitors.
Cox’s Bazar, a beautiful sandy beach which should have given us bragging rights, lags behind in terms of available recreational activities -- there is nothing for people to do at night after visiting the beach, a problem not seen in most other beach towns around the world.
Whatever development we have achieved till now has been ad hoc and without regulation.
Proper sanitation facilities and gas connections are also lacking in many places, and most places are not accessible to people with disabilities.
If Bangladesh wants to make tourists feel more welcome, we have to start by making the right investments.