Promoting agro-tourism in our country can do wonders in terms of revenue generation
Geographically, Bangladesh is a rich land of agro-tourism resources with enormous appeal to sight-seers. Internationally, Bangladesh is now fourth in vegetable production and fourth in fish production. In addition, native capacities for rice, flower, wheat, prawn, and tobacco cultivation have promoted our rural development. These rural dynamic products may uphold agro-tourism.
If we reform land-water-forest sectors through home grown strategies, all -- environment, water, land, forest, marginal farmers, fishermen, women, minorities, and indigenous peoples -- will be economically, socially, and environmentally included for sustainable rural development.
Time has come to preserve rural farming practices and cultural diversity to a great extent for collective welfare, and to distribute the benefits of the tourism industry even at a marginal level.
The promise of tourism in Bangladesh
Agro-ecological tourism as a distinctive field that covers the rural environment with its agricultural products, processing and packaging, agro-based services, rural community, and their culture and belief system.
It is also called eco-tourism, agricultural tourism, dairy farm tourism, farm vacation tourism, bucolic tourism, agro-entertainment, and honey-tasting tourism.
Bangladesh Economic Review (2010) states that Bangladesh has basically three avenues of generating revenue: Industry, agriculture, and services. Tourism is a part of the service sector, which contributes to the GDP of Bangladesh.
Agriculture is the lifeblood of the Bangladesh economy, and a powerful driver of poverty reduction in Bangladesh. In rural Bangladesh, the factors behind the agriculture sector growth are: Irrigation expansion, improved technology, more efficient markets, and finally, widespread mechanization.
Really, Bangladesh’s agriculture sector has been enhanced in terms of productivity and output growth over the last 46 years, regardless of recurrent natural disasters, like climate change, cyclones, drought, and flood and population growth.
Needless to say, challenges to sustainable agricultural growth are numerous. It can be a loss of arable land due to climate change and salinity intrusion in the south, severe droughts in the north, building of industry and infrastructure, and excessive emphasis on urbanization and house-building, as well as water shortages in the dry season due to unresolved river-related disputes with neighbouring India.
It is expected that the Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation, along with other private tour operators, will prefer the issue of correcting the image by undertaking promotional measures in order to develop tourism in Bangladesh. The government should also extend cooperation in this regard by playing the foremost role in building this positive image, so that the industry can play its proper responsibility to the economy of the country.
Why we need eco-tourism
The lands of Kushtia are fertile for tobacco, Mymensingh for paddy, Chandpur and Barisal are known for fish, Sathkhira for prawn, Jessore for flowers, Dinajpur for its wheat, and so on. So, Bangladesh has a lot of options when it comes to promoting the concept of agro-tourism, and find new means that can contribute to its overall economy.
Cox’s Bazar is the tourist capital of Bangladesh. The shark-free beach is good for bathing, sun-bathing, and swimming. The breath-taking beauty of the setting sun behind the waves of the sea is captivating. Visiting the fascinating spot like Himchhari, Teknaf, Inani beach, and various temples can form memorable experiences of one’s lifetime.
The Sundarbans is the largest mangrove forest in the world. Two-thirds of the Sundarbans is in Bangladesh. Wildlife photography is an important part of eco-tourism, and related experiences include boating inside the forest, nature study, meeting fishermen, wood-cutters, and honey-collectors.
Rangamati is a wonderful repository of scenic splendor, with flora and fauna of varied descriptions. The township is located on the Western bank of Kaptai Lake. Rangamati is a favourite holiday resort, because of its beautiful landscape, scenic beauty, lakes, colourful tribes, its flora and fauna, indigenous museums, hanging bridges, homespun textile products, ivory jewellery.
The international tourism system is totally reliant on information technology for its growth, competitiveness, and long-term survival. In promoting the agro-tourism industry of any country, the internet can play a leading role to facilitate information exchange internationally.
The internet can be used effectively for the many purposes of tourism and marketing, including direct sales, advertisement, and customer support. The tourism authority needs to consider the effective use of this technology for the promotional activity of this industry.
Advertising is a non-personal form of mass communication, and it offers a high degree of control for those responsible for the design and delivery of the advertising message. Different tourist attractions of the country can be advertised on television, radio, newspapers, and magazines.
To market agro-ecological tourism, geographical information systems (GIS) are very important. Through these systems, the tourism authorities can easily sell agro-tourism products and indigenous farming tools, show suitable localities for the incorporation of various plants and animals, elucidate geo-demographic characteristics.
Shishir Reza is an environmental analyst and associate member of the Bangladesh Economic Association.