Travel and Tourism - Bangladesh - February 2013
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Roughly the size of England and Wales or a little smaller than the US state of Iowa, the Islamic Republic of Bangladesh is a developing country in South Asia. Nicknamed the ‘Republic of Rivers’, this low-lying country on the Ganges is the world’s largest delta. Since independence in 1971, Bangladesh has been isolated, poverty stricken and prone to natural and political turbulence. Despite unique attractions such as Cox’s Bazar, the world’s longest unbroken natural sea beach, and Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest, home to the Royal Bengal tiger, tourism remains largely untapped. Bangladesh has the least arrivals and earns the lowest revenue from tourism in the region.
However, since the 1990s, tourism has been a small but rapidly growing sector of the national economy, according to Bangladesh tourism information expert and consultant, Majbritt Thomsen in her paper ‘Bangladeshi tourism has so much potential – if the right actions are taken’ (May 2010). The present government is turning to tourism as an opportunity to diversify Bangladesh’s revenue base and change its international image. Bangladesh is trying to boost its tourism industry by promoting its natural wonders to international tourists. It introduced a tourist police force in 2009 in order to increase security at the main tourist sites.
“Our customers are incredibly well-travelled – having been to 50 countries on average before they come to us, and have typically visited other countries in the region,” says Jim Louth, founder and MD of Undiscovered Destinations, which set up eight years ago and was the first UK tour operator to promote Bangladesh. “They’re looking for somewhere off the beaten track and are attracted to Bangladesh not because of a particular tourism site, but because of the experience. It’s not well-known, is largely unexplored and has few tourists, which is attractive in the days of mass travel. Clients typically enjoy the experience – most particularly, the people.”
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