top-rated free essay

Tourism in Bangladesh

By Rubelsky Mar 19, 2011 13025 Words
Table of contents 1. 2.
2.1. 2.2. 2.3. 2.4. 2.5. 2.6.

5.1. 5.2. 5.3. 5.4. 5.5. 5.6.

The upcoming tourist industry ........................ 31
Transportation .............................................................................31 Accommodation, restaurants and night life ..............................33 Tour operators .............................................................................35 How is Bangladesh sold ...............................................................36 The future Bangladeshi tourist supply.......................................38 The potential of the tourism industry ........................................39

Introduction ..................................................... 3 Bangladesh – at a glance ................................... 4 Geography...................................................................................... 4 Climate ........................................................................................... 5 History............................................................................................ 6 Population ...................................................................................... 7 National economy .......................................................................... 9 Travel advice for Bangladesh..................................................... 11

6. 7. 8.
8.1. 8.2. 8.3. 8.4. 8.5.

Executive summary ......................................... 44 Reference ........................................................ 47 Appendix ......................................................... 51 Tourist arrivals (in thousands) ...................................................51 Tourism revenue (in millions US$).............................................51 Players in the local tourism business..........................................51 Prices in Bangladesh....................................................................53 SWOT analysis of the Bangladeshi tourism sector...................56

3.1. 3.2. 3.3. 3.4.

Tourist destinations........................................ 14 The four main tourist divisions.................................................. 14 The two secondary tourist divisions .......................................... 17 Status for tourist attractions ...................................................... 18 Potential ....................................................................................... 21

4.1. 4.2. 4.3. 4.4. 4.5.

Target groups.................................................. 22 Inbound tourists .......................................................................... 22 The local middle and high class ................................................. 24 The expatriate community ......................................................... 26 Future tourist demand................................................................ 28 Potential ....................................................................................... 29

8.5.1. Strengths________________________________________________ 56 8.5.2. Weaknesses______________________________________________ 58 8.5.3. Opportunities ____________________________________________ 60 8.5.4. Threats _________________________________________________ 61


Contact information ....................................................................62


Reality however is not as devastating as indicated by the



image of the country since the national economy is improving, population growth has slowed down, poverty seems to be abating, and a nationwide nature warning system functions effectively. Further more Bangladesh is nowadays standing at a political crossroad as a temporary government since October 2006 has introduced reforms to eliminate corruption and public inefficiency. This paper is written by Majbritt Thomsen, Danish MA in Tourism living in Bangladesh since October 2007, for the Danish Embassy in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The photo material illustrating life in Bangladesh is provided by Emile Mahabub, Majbritt Thomsen and Casper Magnussen. The subject matter for this paper provides an introduction to the Bangladeshi tourist sector with a primary focus on its general status and development potential. It is specifically hoped that this paper will increase the interest of the Danish tourism business in Bangladesh as well as draw the attention to the development possibilities through the DANIDA B2B programme.

The country of Bangladesh is most known internationally through newspaper headlines for its poor population, corruption and several natural disasters. These problems are real and their side effects have a fundamental impact on the society.



Bangladesh – at a glance

The main information sources in this chapter are Lonely Planet Bangladesh (2004), Banglapedia (2006) and Encyclopedia of the Nations (2008).



Bangladesh is located in the tropics in South Asia and has a total area of 147,570 sq. km, which is about three times the size of Denmark. It shares its borders with India on the west and north and Myanmar (Burma) on the east. On the south, 66,400 kilometres of coastline merge into the Bay of Bengal. Bangladesh is a part of the Bengal basin which is one of the most seismically active zones of the world. However, no major earthquake has occurred in Bangladesh since 1950.1 Topographically, the country is almost entirely a fertile alluvial plain formed by the two main rivers, the Ganges and the Brahmaputra and their hundreds of tributaries.


The Sustainable Development Networking Programme (SDNP)



Hills rise above the plain only in the Chittagong Hill Tracts in the far southeast and the Sylhet division in the northeast. The world’s largest littoral mangrove belt, The Sundarbans, covers an area of nearly 3600 sq km in the south western part of Bangladesh and another 2400 sq km in east India. About 10 % of Bangladesh is still forested. Half of the forest is in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, a quarter in the Sundarbans, and the rest scattered in small pockets throughout the country. The country is divided in the following six divisions: Rajshahi, Sylhet, Chittagong, Khulna, Dhaka and Barisal Division, all named after their respective capitals. The capital city, Dhaka, with over 10 million citizens (2001) is located in the central part of the country.

May. Days average 25 °C in January, 35 °C in April and linger around the 30°C mark for most of the year. Annual rainfall varies from 1000 mm in the west to 5000 mm in the north. 75 % of the annual rainfall occurs between June and September, in this period normally humidity is between 90 % and 95 %.



Bangladesh has a subtropical and tropical climate with three main seasons: the 'wet' season from late May to early October; the 'cold' season from mid-October to the end of February; and the 'hot' season from mid-March to midEighty percent of Bangladesh is less than 1.5 metres above sea level and every year during the monsoon season the rivers flood half the country to a depth of 30 cm.


The floods, which last for several months, have the environmental benefit of bringing fertile silt, but cause great disruption. The best season for travelling in Bangladesh is between October and February. Early March can still be pleasant, but by April the humidity increases and lethal hailstorms aren’t uncommon. On average, the country gets hit by one major cyclone every three years. The worst times for cyclones are May to June and October to November.



Through different invasions, the area of Bangladesh was influenced by Buddhism, Hinduism and Muslim until the 17th century. The Portuguese, Dutch, British and French then tussled for decades for influence over the subcontinent; the British East India Company prevailed. At the end of the European colonialism the British divided their Indian colony on religious grounds. India was dominated by the Hindu population, and Muslims dominated East and West Pakistan (now Bangladesh and Pakistan).


The two Muslim regions had little in common as they were separated by more than 1500 km of Indian Territory and spoke two different languages. In 1971 Bangladesh, literally ’land of the Bangla speakers’, emerged as an independent and sovereign country following a destructive and violent nine-month liberation war. Numerous military coups followed but in the 1990s the establishment of a civil government brought in political stabilization as well as a comprehensive corruption in the private, public and political sector. Bangladesh has developed into a democratic Muslim state. Politically and economically the country is orientated to the western society while as the same time attention is given to the religious relationship to other Muslim countries, especially in the Middle East. Furthermore a linguistic, cultural and historical relationship exists between the 230 million Bangla speakers in the world, living primary in Bangladesh and India.2 Since January 2007 Bangladesh has been in a state of emergency, as the legitimate temporary government has suspended certain fundamental rights to fight corruption 2

and other crimes. The political situation is referred to as a ‘window of opportunity’ and the government has announced elections in late 2008.



The Bangladeshi population is relatively homogeneous. The national language, Bangla, is spoken by over 98 % of the population, while other ethnic groups, including various tribal groups, make up the remaining 2 percent.

Banglapedia (2006)


Religion also plays an important role in the society, Muslims make up about 83%, and Hindus 16 %, Buddhist and Christian are religious minorities. Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated countries in the world with its population of over 140 million. It is a relatively young population, as nearly 60 percent are under the age of 25 and only 3 percent 65 or older.

Average birth rate is around three, compared to seven in the 1970s, and life expectancy at birth is 61 years. Almost two-thirds of the population is illiterate. English is, except in Dhaka, little spoken and understood in the towns and hardly at all up-country. The country is also one of the poorest in the world. GNI pr. capita in 2006 was only 480 USD3 and a huge inequality gulf exists in the society. The poorest 40 percent of the population are living below the poverty line controlling just 20.7 percent of the wealth. Meanwhile the wealthiest 20 percent of the population control 42.8 percent of the wealth.4 A small growing middle class accounts for 9 percent of the population, or 13 million people. In Pakistan and India the middle class are estimated to a total of 18 percent and 30 percent, respectively.5 Urban population is growing rapidly especially in Dhaka, Chittagong, Khulna, and Rajshahi. Bangladesh was almost completely a rural-agrarian country until 1951 with only 4 percent living in urban areas. By 2001 the

3 DANIDA (2008)
4 5

Encyclopedia of the Nations (2007c) International Herald Time (2006)


level of urbanization was 23 % and by 2025 this level is estimated to reach 40%6.


National economy

For several years the Bangladeshi GNP has shown a 5-6 pct. growth, but the economy, including the financial sector, is still facing important challenges. The country is heavily dependent on imported technologies; further more proper planning is required for its effective transfer through acquisition, assimilation and adoption.7 The agriculture and labour-intensive manufacturing are the two major pillars of the national economy. Major exports are garments, jute and jute goods, tea, leather and leather products, frozen fish, and seafood. The structure of the economy however has changed gradually. Between 1970 and 1999 the agricultural contribution to the GNP declined from 55 to 31.6 percent, while the production of manufactured goods increased from 9 to 19.3 percent.8 An important reason for this change was a political and social stability introduced in the 1990s which increased the overseas competitiveness of the local industries as well as attracted foreign aid, political representation and foreign investments. Permanently present in the country are 40 Foreign Representations and Embassies9, 93 International Organizations/NGO, and 33 Business 6 7 8

Sustainable Development Networking Programme (SDNP) (2005b) Discovery Bangladesh (2008) Encyclopedia of the Nations (2007b) 9

See captor 4.3.


Associations/Consultants Multinationals10. Latest sources (2003-2004) show that Bangladesh had a total of 127 Foreign Investments Registrations, shared equally between Developed and Developing Economies. Foreign aid was the equivalent of 6.7 US$ pr. capita in 2004.11 Bangladesh is a pioneer in the world of Microcredit with one of the largest number of microfinance institutions and highest penetration rates in the world. Microcredit pioneer and founder of Grameen Bank, Bengali Muhammad Yunus, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006. His innovative banking program has for over 30 years provided poor people with small loans they use to launch businesses and lift their families out of poverty.

Tourism has since the 1990s been a small but rapidly growing sector of the economy.12 In 2007 the employment in the Bangladeshi Travel & Tourism Industry was estimated at 752.000 jobs or 1.2% of total employment. The industry was expected to contribute 1.5% to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2007 or US$ 998.2 million13.

10 11

DAWC ‘Yellow Pages’ (2005) (2007)

12 13

Encyclopedia of the Nations (2007a) World Travel & Tourism Council (2007a)



Travel advice for Bangladesh

Local laws reflect the fact that Bangladesh is a predominantly Muslim country. Furthermore centuries of isolation, even when foreign powers ruled, have produced people, customers and values that are typical Bengali in nature. Bangladeshis are generally hospitable and exceedingly helpful. Anything unusual is a crowd magnet, be it a road accident, a street demonstration or a foreigner. Travellers should respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times and be aware of their actions to ensure that they do not offend other cultures or religious beliefs. Likewise foreigners are advised to travel responsibly, being sensitive to their impact on the local environment and society.

Citizens of all countries need visa to enter Bangladesh. General advice is to obtain the visa in the home country, although it can also be attained on arrival and in a few embassies and consulates in neighboring countries.14

Safety and security issues for travellers according to several embassies15 are; Terrorism threats and attacks cannot be ruled out; Demonstrations are often held at short notice and have the potential to become violent; and the current political state of emergency.

15 14

Embassy Web-pages of England, Sweden, America, Norway and (2008b)

Denmark has been consulted in February 2006.


Documented crime against expats and tourists include armed robbery, pick pocketing, abduction for ransom and officials’ abuse of authority. Travel between towns after dark, by train, bus or ferry, is generally risky because of banditry. Further more road network condition and safety is poor; and ferries are often dangerously overcrowded.

Travellers in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (Chittagong Division) are required to register with local authorities, stay in the main towns and travel on the main roads. The safety situation in the Chittagong Hill Tracts is pointed out by embassies as constantly changing due to violent disputes between rival tribal groups, settlers and the military. Historically, crime rates in Bangladesh have traditionally been low compared to other areas of the world. The crime situation in Dhaka and Chittagong is however worsening and there are increasing reports of crimes involving weapons. Foreigners have not been especially targeted.16 One recent security advice for foreigners in Dhaka estimates that “Dhaka is a safe place, when you know how to play by its rules”.17

16 17

A Global World Products (2008) (2008c)


As to the safety situation in the Chittagong Hill Tracts a peace accord was signed in 1997, after two decades of local resistance and military repression.18 All problems are not solved but both local and foreigners are now travelling to several destinations in the area. General travelling advice for Bangladesh is therefore to be well informed of world events and local developments as well as avoid potential dangerous situations like travelling alone (especially as single females)19, at night and by public transportation.

18 19

A Global World Products (2008) (2008a)


archaeological site, and Jaggadala Vihara, the


Tourist destinations

archaeological remains of a Buddhist monastery.

In terms of existing tourist products, both inbound and home market, Rajshahi, Sylhet, Chittagong and Khulna Division are the main tourist divisions.20


The four main tourist divisions

The Rajshahi Division is overwhelmingly agricultural, with no large cities. In the northern part of this division the Himalayan Mountains can be seen on clear days. The region offers remote peaceful towns and a variety of historical monuments, including mosques, Hindu temples and British-era buildings. Best known, and nominated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the ruins of the Buddhist Vihara at Paharpur. According to UNESCO this archaeological site is undoubtedly the most spectacular pre-Islamic monumental complex in the south of the Himalayan region. Three other historical sites are on the UNESCO Tentative list: Mahasthangarh, the oldest known city in Bangladesh, Halud Vihara, a Buddhist 20

The Sylhet Division is covered with terraced tea estates, patches of tropical rainforest, pineapple plantations and orange groves. This division has the best climate in the country – temperate and cool air in the winter and moderately warm in the summer. Annual rainfall is 5000 mm, the highest in the country. Clear water runs in

Primary source Lonely Planet (2004), Banglapedia (2006),

Encyclopedia of the Nations (2007) and UNESCO (2008a-c)


the rivers and popular tourists attractions are the waterfall, Madhab Kunda, and Jaflong river delta, where pebbles to the national concrete industry are collected. Highlighted tourist activities are cycling, bird watching and visiting tribal villages in the area.

Martin’s Island. To the local travel market these places have become popular and loathed sea, sand and sun holiday destinations. Beach life, Bangladeshi style, includes women bathing in a two-piece suit. Far East the division is hilly; this part is referred to as the Chittagong Hills. Over ten different tribe populations live in this area, each tribe with distinctive rites, rituals, dialects and dress.

Chittagong Division offers a natural and ethnic diversity. Situated in this part of Bangladesh it is one of the world's longest natural sandy sea beaches (120 km) including mud flats, Cox’s Bazar, and the only coral island, Saint


The Mainimati Ruins represents a major religious and political centre without parallel in the subcontinent as it appears to have been the religious centre from which Buddhism was spread to South East Asia. This cultural site is on the UNESCO Tentative List. The 900 hectare Dulahazara Safari Park is the first of its kind in Bangladesh; the park is home for 4,000 animals of 165 species. Chittagong city is the second largest city in Bangladesh with around 4 million citizens and the country’s busiest port. The Khulna Division is made up of marshland, dense jungle and numerous rivers. The Sundarbarns is a preserve cluster of islands with thousands of winding streams, creeks and rivers and the habitat for the famous Royal Bengal Tiger. The site is the only UNESCO heritage nature site in Bangladesh and one of the country’s major tourist attractions. The Historical Mosque City of Bagerhat is also nominated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Except for Dhaka, this town has more historic monuments in its surrounding area than any other town in Bangladesh. It was not until the arrival of the British that this division started to develop, but today the city of Khulna it is the third-largest urban centre in the country.



The two secondary tourist divisions

Barisal Division is a wide and flat region fringed by rivers and the sea, which offers a quiet green environment with little industrial development and few historical monuments. Barisal, the capital of the division, is a pleasant port city with several ponds and old buildings from the Raj era. Best tourist spot is the beach of Kuakata, with a wide, sandy beach boasting coconut groves, a Buddhist temple and tribal communities.

Dhaka Division is the most densely populated area of the country with some 25,244 villages. Most of the division is closely settled farmland and only in the far north woodland can be found. Some of the best cultural sites in the countryside are: Sonargaon, the ancient capital of Isa Khan's kingdom in Bengal, Atia Mosque, a transitional phase mosque, and the Madhupur Forest Reserve. Dhaka, the bursting capital is dominant in terms of population concentration, economy, trade and commerce, education, and administration. The capital can be divided in to three areas. Old Dhaka is a maze of crowded bazaars, narrow streets and interesting buildings and Mosques. The Lalbagh Fort, Bangla-Mughal style architecture, is nominated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Central Dhaka is a modern part of town with commercial districts and many of the nation’s central museums, universities and offices. Beyond are the suburbs, including the upmarket quarters of Banani, Gulshan and Baridhara, which have the best restaurants, guesthouses and all of the embassies.



Status for tourist attractions

survival often depends on intact natural areas. Some of the large wildlife animals in the country are tiger, elephant, black bear, deer, monkey, crocodile, snake and dolphin. Bangladesh is also the habit of more than 650 spices of birds, almost half of those found on the entire subcontinent.

The result of the tumultuous history of Bangladesh, with internal warfare, several invasions, rise and fall of empires, and influence from foreign lands is a country with a widely cultural and religious mix, monuments to show and stories to tell. A sustainable commercial use of these resources is often low, which affect the standard for preservation, development and level of international appeal.

There is a dismal lack of designated national parks, reserves and conservation area in Bangladesh overall. The country has two national parks21 and four forest reserve22, these are in generally not strictly controlled and disappearing fast. With millions of people to feed, it’s maybe asking too much to lock away good agricultural land. Nevertheless animal


Bhawal National Park (Dhaka Division) and Sundarbarns National

Park (Khulna Division)

Lowacherra Forest Reserve (Sylhet Division), Madhupur Forest

Reserve (Dhaka Division), Singra Forest Reserve (Rajshahi Division) and Telepara Forest Reserve (Sylhet Division)


Global warming represents a huge challenge for Bangladesh, as it is one of the 10 countries most vulnerable to a rise in sea level. Present predictions23 indicate the sea will rise by 8 to 30 cm by 2030, and 30 – 110 cm by 2100. A 1m rise in the Bay of Bengal would result in a lost of 12-18% of the country’s land. UNESCO conclude in 200824 that three sites inscribed on the World Heritage List and a tentative list now being drawn up with the assistance of UNESCO demonstrate that Bangladesh is concerned with safeguarding a heritage damaged by increased salinity and climate change. Likewise, with regard to cultural policies and intercultural dialogue, UNESCO concludes that Bangladesh is concerned to protect and promote traditional Bengali culture while upgrading relations between cultural diversity and biodiversity as a basis for sustainable development.

23 24

Sustainable development Network Programme (SDNP) (2008) UNESCO (2008b)


Bangladesh and UNESCO also cooperate in the field of intangible heritage. In 2005 the Baul Songs were proclaimed Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity and an action plan has been implemented to foster their transmission. These songs are believed to date back to at least the 15th century and form an important genre of Bengali folk songs also in present time. Baul Songs were an inspiration to, Bengali Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941), the first Asian writer to win the Nobel Prize in 1913. Traditional Bengali handicraft is cheep and includes pottery and terracotta sculpture, processed pieces of jewellery of gold, silver and mother of pearls, textiles weaving in silk and cotton and wood carved products. The production of local handicraft is often part of social sustainable development programs. Furthermore Bangladesh plays a part in the SEAL of Excellence initiative, a South-east Asian program established in 2000 to encourage craft-workers to use traditional skills and

materials to ensure the perpetuation of traditional knowledge and preserve cultural diversity.25


UNESCO (2008c)




The six Bangladeshi Division offers both individually and combining a variety of natural and cultural destinations suitable for tourist attractions. Regardless of the present development, this paper argues that future tourist development is possible in all districts of Bangladesh depending highly on the existing potential and the tourist product in mind.

Giving the complex challenges for the nation to preserve its attractions for the future, sustainable tourism development could have a major positive impact in Bangladesh. The existing external image of Bangladesh can further more inspire to several new tourist attractions to increase understanding of the country’s history and developing challenges. For example tourist could see, or participate in, traditional craft-work or volunteer work at nature and cultural projects.


average number of over 1000 tourists travelling to


Target groups
Inbound tourists

Bangladesh pr. year. Here Pakistan was situated at the top end with 9.179 tourists and Denmark at the bottom with 1.287 tourists. The countries in-between top to bottom are: Japan, Korea, China, Canada, Nepal, Germany, Malaysia, Australia, Netherlands, Thailand, Singapore, France, Sri Lanka, Italy, Sweden, Taiwan, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Others and Indonesia. Within the above mentioned top 25 countries for the Bangladeshi tourist industry 17 countries show a positive growth for the period 1995 to 2005. The five larges percentage-wise growth is recoded in ‘Other’ (286%), Indonesia (250%), Taiwan (157%), Thailand (94%) and China (74%). The number of Danish tourists in Bangladesh shows a 5% growth. The Bangladeshi inbound tourist activity is spread through out the year. Numbers from 2005, shows that the country monthly receives between 13.166 (September) and 20.213 (January) inbound tourists. Less than 17.000 tourists are received in the months of February, April, August, September and October. Between 17.000 and

The latest available profound statistic information of the Bangladeshi characteristics of the inbound tourists covers the time period 1996 to 2005.26 Average number of inbound tourists in the period is 203.015 tourists. The lowest number of inbound tourists was 165.887 tourists recorded in 1996, the highest was 271.270 tourists in 2004. In 2005 Bangladesh recorded 207.662 inbound tourists. In terms of region the majority of the Bangladeshi tourists originated from South Asia (99.459), followed by Europe (48.961), East Asia and Pacific (35.976), US (18.673), Middle East (2.861) and Africa (1.730). During 1996 to 2005 the average numbers of tourists from different countries, show a top three over 10.000 tourist’s pr year from India (71.966), UK (31.529) and USA (14.873). In this same period another 22 countries had an 26

Source Parjatan


19.000 tourists are received in May, June, November and December. High inbound travel months with over 19.000 tourists are January, March and July. A significant difference in travel patterns throughout the year exists between the top 25 inbound tourist countries in Bangladesh. In Korea, Australia, Nepal, Taiwan, Italy, Philippines, Switzerland and Bhutan November is the month with the highest numbers of tourists travel to Bangladesh. In China, Japan, Pakistan, Canada, Nederland, Sweden and Sri Lanka most Bangladeshi travel activity is in January. Tourists in Germany, New Zealand and Denmark primarily prefer travelling in March. Other favourite travelling month to Bangladesh include May (India), June (Singapore), July (UK and USA), August (Indonesia) and September (Thailand and France). Personal experience from the expatriate community show that it is very rare to meet short-term foreign visitors in Bangladesh, the ones that do visit for less than a month are usually here as guests of expats. The characteristics of the top 25 inbound tourist countries in Bangladesh and the existing travel pattern indicates that the inbound tourists from these countries are

influenced by several factors when choosing Bangladesh as their destination. Some of the important pull-factors for these countries are expected to be: The climatic travel season in Bangladesh; the historical links to India, Pakistan and England; a linguistic link with English speaking countries; the geographical proximity to markets; and personal relationships to the expatriate community.



The local middle and high class

No statistic information of the local tourism market has been found, but several typical features of this market can be pointed out.27 The nature of the country’s urban social structure has changed due to the fact that cosmopolitan culture and modern values has transmitted from the West. So while the rural lifestyle have remained largely unchanged for millennia, the growing Bangladeshi urban middle and upper class live much like their Western counterparts. The highest level of urbanization is in Dhaka, Chittagong and Khulna which all has a large industrial and commercial pursuit along with vibrant service sectors. Wealth and education largely determine urban social status for both men and women. Unlike many Middle Eastern countries women in Bangladesh enjoy considerable freedom and are generally involved in education and labour.28 Nevertheless educating sons has the highest priority, which the inequality in the level of literacy between the sexes show (in 2003 est. male 53% and female 31,8%).29 In richer families both sons and 27

According to Lonely Planet (2004) and Encyclopedia of the Nations

28 29

Banglapedia (2006) CIA - The world Factbook (2008)



daughters are under great pressure to get a good education at a national or international prestigious university. Since the 1980s Bangladesh has had a rapidly rising emigration of people, both permanent and temporary. The emigration rate stood at the 0.77 migrant(s) per 1,000 citizens in 2000, or around 1 million a year.30 12 million Bangladeshis possess a passport in 2008.31 Popular emigration destinations for study and work are Western Europe, the Americas and Australia. The major destinations for Bangladeshi workers are Middle East countries and Malaysia, where they are temporary employed mainly in the low-skill and low-wage construction and service sectors.32

to which they go when possible.33 Compared to the hectic, crowded and polluted city life the rural lifestyle stands out as simple, quiet and safe. Since 2005, Bangladesh has recognized a two-day weekend: Friday and Saturday and 21 Government Holidays. Two popular travelling opportunities, where millions of people leave the cities, are the Muslim holidays, Eid ul-Fitr and Eid ul-Azha.

The Bangladeshi family is a tightly knitted group, not only for economic and protective reasons, but as a major centre for both recreational and social activities. Even for city dwellers, there is a strong connection to the ‘home village’,

30 31 32

CIA - The world Factbook (2008) (2008) Encyclopedia of the Nations (2007a) 33

Lonely Planet Bangladesh (2004)



The expatriate community

persons) and England (around 2000 persons). The sum of expatriated Europeans34 is just over 3000. The further indication of the characterisation of the expatriate community is based on the results of an exploratory tourism survey in Dhaka on the local target markets in November 2007. This paper author participated in making the survey as a part of a Feasibility Study on a Bangladeshi up scale eco resort. 51 random picked expats from 20 countries participated in the survey. Age between 22 and 60 were represented by the questioned, average age was 38 years. 12 questioned expats reside in Bangladesh alone while 35 live with a partner/spouse. 25 couples have 1-3 kids staying in Bangladesh at the age of 0 to 19, average age is 7. In 48 expat households at least one person is working, in the remaining 3 household occupancy is study related. 16 expats are unemployed, all women living with working partner/spouse.

There are no official records of the expatriate community, but foreign countries with embassies or consulates in Bangladesh can be interpreted as having a high level of national activity and interest in the country. The 40 countries with national authorities in Bangladesh are: Australia, Bhutan, Brunei, Canada, China, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Iran, Japan, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Korea (South and North), Kuwait, Libyan, Malaysia, Morocco, Myanmar, Nederland, Nepal, Norway, Pakistan, Palestine, Poland, Qatar, Russia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, UK, United Arab Emirates, USA and Uzbekistan. 17 of the above mentioned authorities answered FebruaryMarch 2008 when questioned about the numbers of citizens expatriated in Bangladesh. The answers generally show a lack of exact registration of citizens living in Bangladesh, but these estimations nevertheless provide an initial insight of this target group. The total numbers of expats provided ends up to 13000 15000 expats, primarily from India (5000-6000 persons), America (2400-2500 persons), Pakistan (2000-2050


Numbers of expats from Denmark (137), Germany (150-200), Italy

(some 200), Nederland (200), Norway (71), Sweden (80 families), Switzerland (52), Turkey (113) and UK (some 2000).


Annual household income is in generally high; 20 % earn US$60,000 - US$79,999, 16 % US$80,000 - US$99,999, 14 % US$40,000 - US$59,999 and a total of 38 % earn more than US$60,000. The living period in Bangladesh range between 6 month and 22 years, average is 3.3 years. Expatriate households make several annual trips with an overnight stay, the average number of stays is 1,8 in Bangladesh, 1,5 to home country, 2,8 to nearby countries and 1,1 to other countries. The expatriate travel pattern in Bangladesh show large differences; 14 households have no experience with such trips, while 8 households make more than 6 annual trips. The five most important elements when or if, selecting a place to visit/stay in Bangladesh are: cleanliness, beautiful natural setting, comfortable rooms, good food and environmentally friendly facilities. The destinations visited in Bangladesh by expats are mainly inspired by family and friends (62%), work colleagues (42%) and guide books (19%).

Personal experience on the expatriate community indicates that expats live, with only few exceptions, in the up quarters of Dhaka or Chittagong. Everyday life and most weekends’ expats in Dhaka stay in the hectic and polluted capital. Socializing with partner/spouse, children and friends is important, which is often taking place at local international clubs or restaurants.


Several expats are considering going on extended weekends to the Bangladeshi countryside. Expats, who have never stayed over night at national destinations outside Dhaka, often base their perception of Bangladesh on their impressions of the capital city. Some of their specific reasons not to go are: dangerous and hectic traffic, hours of travel time and lack of knowledge of the existing destination possibilities in the national tourist market. Expats, who have stayed over night at national destinations outside Dhaka, often travel in larger groups related to work or personal relationships; quite often the reason to go is home country visitors. Travelling in rural Bangladesh is often explained as an intensive experience, which often causes personal frustrations as well as an increasing understanding of the countries background, present and future. Curious crowds of people, long travel time and hectic traffic are relevant travel obstacles, but several travel experienced expats argue that the best experiences in Bangladesh are to be found outside Dhaka.


Future tourist demand

Bangladesh is part of South Asia, which also includes Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. This major region is the most under represented region in tourism terms, with 23 per cent of the world’s population but les than 1 per cent of stayovers. The majority of the tourist traffic is accounted for just one country: India.35 Except for the country of Bhutan, that with a strict tourist visa policy is offering an expensive and exclusive tourist 35

Weaver & Lawton (2002)


product to few tourists, Bangladesh is the country in the region that have the least arrivals and revenue earned from the industry. Tourist arrivals in 2005 were 208.000 from which the country earned 70 million US$. 36 Contributing factors to the level of inbound tourism in South Asia include a long history of regional political and social instability. Further more the region suffers by a negative market image of widespread poverty, a rudimentary level of infrastructure and services, and a relative remoteness to major market regions. In 2002 the tourist prospects of at least some of the South Asian countries was predicted to improve in the future through the implementation of multilateral and interregional projects that seek to develop their potential.37 Travel & Tourism is in the beginning of the twenty-first century a high-growth activity, which is forecast to increase its total economic activity by 4.4% per annum worldwide in real terms between 2008 and 2017. In this

same period, Travel & Tourism in South Asia is expected to post average annualized gains of an amazing 7.3%; the expected growth in Bangladesh is 5.7% per annum. Travel & Tourism Demand in South Asia is hereby expected to reach 82,037.2 million US$ in 2007, growing to 204,964.5 million in 2017. In 2007, Bangladeshi Travel & Tourism is expected to post 3,429.3 million US$ of economic activity (Total Demand), growing to 7,412.1 million US$ by 2017. 38



Bangladesh is the country in the region that has the least arrivals and revenue earned from the tourism industry. Lack of updated valid data about the Bangladesh tourism sector makes it difficult to conclude the tourism demand status and potential, but possible growth are indicated in all three target markets; inbound tourism, the local middle and high class and expats.

36 37

See Appendix Table 7.1 and Table 7.2 Weaver & Lawton (2002)

World Travel & Tourism Council (2007a)


In spite of a growing tourist demand worldwide, regionally and nationally there is no guarantee that Bangladesh will benefit. The reason is39 that many destinations and individual companies have shackled their ability to grow by running competition on a cost-only basis and have foregone innovation as a differentiating factor. The organizations which will benefit most from anticipated industry growth will be those that are quickest and most flexible in reacting to the unforeseen. To be able to manage industry volatility, organizations need to possess three distinctive capabilities; Flexible operating models, customer centricity as a core capability and operational excellence.


World Travel & Tourism Council (2007b)


Asia and Europe.40 Several flight routes options exist from


The upcoming tourist industry

European destinations to Dhaka. As an example flying from Copenhagen, Denmark, to Dhaka, is possible with one stopover in London (England), Bangkok (Thailand) or Rome (Italy). Several alternative travel routes include a two stop over journey; First stop over is in one of the European cities of Frankfurt (Germany), Helsinki (Finland), London (England), Wien (Austria) or Istanbul (Turkey). Second stop over is in Dubai (United Arab Emirates), Doha (Qatar) or Delhi (India).41

The main sources for this chapter are Banglapedia (2006) and Lonely Planet Bangladesh (2004). Additional information regarding the players and prices in the local tourism business is available though Appendix 8.3 and 8.4.



About 3.8 million international and 0.8 million domestic passengers pass through Zia International Airport annually, which is over 50 % of the country's international and domestic arrivals and departures.42 In addition to the international airports, there are smaller, domestic airports in Rajshahi, Bagerhat, Barisal, Cox’s Bazar, Jessore, and Saidpur. There are only a couple of direct flights between regional cities, including Cox’s Bazar-Chittagong and Saidpur-Rajshahi.

International fares from Europe and Thailand to Bangladesh are often cut-rate flights and the national transport, whether it is by air, land or water, are cheap compared with western standard.

Bangladesh has international airports in Dhaka, Chittagong and Sylhet; the main outbound destinations are Bangkok (Thailand) and Calcutta (India). The largest national airport, Zia International Airport, is located in the capital. 20 airlines are handling over 183 international flights per week to over 25 destinations in

40 41 42 (2008a) Search the 11. of April 2008 at (2008a)


The Bangladeshi rail network is largely British-built, linking most major towns and cities. The network is divided into two halves – eastern and western – by the Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers. Connections between the two networks are often poor further more travel is slowed down by unbridged rivers requiring ferry crossings and circuitous routing. A train ride can take up exactly the same time, or twice as long, as a bus ride. Approximately 6240km (3877 miles) of roads makes it possible to reach virtually everywhere in Bangladesh. Road travel can be very slow given poor quality of many of the roads, heavy and chaotic traffic in urban areas and occasionally ferry crossings being a necessity. The Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation provides a countrywide network of bus services. Bangladesh has a well-developed and well-used system of water transport, further more with a total of 8000 km., rivers and streams outstretch roads in total distance. Although water transportation is generally slow and highly affected by the rise and fall of the rivers though out the seasons, this transportation form is an interesting

alternative. The main routes are covered by Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation (BIWTC), while private companies are primary operating on shorter routes. Sundarbarns, the mangrove forest, can only be visited by boat.



Accommodation, restaurants and night life

Traditionally, Bengalis have preferred to accommodate and entertain guests at home, however small and congested a house may be. Any suggestion of keeping guests or relatives at hotels or entertaining them in restaurants was almost sacrilegious. During the British period, officials and their guests found accommodation and food at circuit houses. In the 1950s and 1960s, a large number of rest houses were built all over the country providing services to business travellers. The first hotels and motels build around interesting spots with facilities suitable for tourists were launched by the national tourism organisation ‘The Bangladeshi Parjatan Corporation’ after 1960. Many little-known places of historic, cultural, ethnic and natural interest were made popular this way.43 The largest complexes were built in Dhaka, Chittagong and Cox’s Bazar, but the organisation also offers accommodation in the cities of Khulna, Dinajpur, Rangamati, Sylhet, Bogra, Rajshahi and Rangpur.44 Generally the facilities and service offered by these accommodations are at a basic level.


Banglapedia (2006)

44 (2008)


A variety of facilities at different service levels are offered in the private build hotels and restaurants which have emerged all over the country since 1971. Business related tourism still seems to be the primary target group and the metropolitan cities of Dhaka and Chittagong has attracted most attention. The top end hotels in Dhaka are: ‘Radisson Water Garden Hotel Dhaka’, ‘Sheraton Hotel’, ‘Sarina Hotel Dhaka’, ‘Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel’, ‘The Westin Hotel Dhaka’ and ‘Hotel Swiss Park Bangladesh’.

Hundreds of restaurants serve Local, Oriental, Indian and Western food. Further more several exclusive private clubs in Dhaka and Chittagong provide accommodation, food and bar services to their members and guests. Examples of popular private tourist accommodation outside the two main cities include in Sylhet Division ‘Nazimgarh Resort’, in Dhaka Division ‘Royal Resort’, in Rajshahi Division ‘Hotel Naz Garden’, ‘Elenga Resort’ and ‘Jamuna Resort’, in Chittagong Division ‘Esmeralda Resort’, ‘Hillside Resort’ and ‘Seagull Hotel’. Private tourist boat operators with onboard accommodation are primary sailing in the Sundarbarns or nearby Dhaka. Examples of high quality tourist boat operators are ‘Contic’, ‘Guide Tours’, ‘Bangladesh Ecotours’ and ‘Excursion Bangladesh’. Bangladeshi nightlife is nearly non-existent. Being a Muslim country, alcohol is frowned upon and found mostly in the international clubs and pricier restaurants in Dhaka and in some restaurants in tourist centers like Cox's Bazar. Some of the nicest hotels in the cities have fully equipped bars with exaggerated prices to match. In


town Teknaf and on Saint Martins Island smuggled beer from Myanmar is occasionally sold.45

Commerce, the Government of Bangladesh. In addition to their focus on their home market, several TOAB members49 cooperate with foreign tour operators and provide tour packages to nearby South Asian counties primary India, Nepal, and Bhutan. Latest membership update from 2006 show 73 members and 4 associated members, including tour operators, hotels and resorts. 50 On foreign markets Bangladesh is included as a tourist destination by few local travel operators, for example ‘Experience Bangladesh’ (USA), ‘Undiscovered Destinations’ (UK), ’UNITAS rejser’ (Denmark) and ‘Grace Tours’ (Denmark). In 2007 TOAB claimed that their members cater up to 95% of the foreign tourists and also hosted most of the domestic tourists: However the organisation do not have any statistic on how many tourists they host every year,


Tour operators

Theoretically both the National tourist Office Parjatan (The Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation) and the private-sector run tours in Bangladesh, but in reality the private-sector operators have eclipsed national tour service.46 At ‘The Bangladeshi Tourism Fair 2007’ it was estimated that about 150 private tour operators in the country, no Bangladeshi tour operator works abroad, and no foreign tour operator work in Bangladesh. 47 In 1992 78 private tour operators48 founded the TOAB association (Tour Operators Association of Bangladesh), which aims to develop and nourish tourism in Bangladesh and to promote tour products of Bangladesh in the international arena. In 2002 the association was recognized as a trade organization from the Ministry of

45 46 47 48 (2008b) Lonely Planet (2004) Daily Star (2007) Daily Star (2007) 49For

example ‘Amazing Holidays’, ‘Classic Tours & Travels’, ‘Galaxy

Travel International’ and ‘The Guide Tours Ltd.’

TOAB (2006)


how big their private industry is, or how big their contribution to the government treasury is.51 All tour operators outside TOAB do not seem totally unprofessional though; two examples are ‘Contic’ and ‘Delta Outdoors’.


How is Bangladesh sold

The Bangladeshi tourist slogan most referred to is ’Visit Bangladesh: Before Tourists come’, used several years ago by Parjatan. Nevertheless the promotion of Bangladesh as a tourist destination is far from unambiguous, most likely due to lack of national political policy and business corporation. The first and still active national policy on tourism in Bangladesh was introduced in 1992, but according to TOAB no changes in the industry has been evident since its announcement. There is no cooperation between the reprehensive organs form the government and private tourist sector, Parjatan and TOAB, further more a collectively marketing policy does not exist in either organ.52

51 52

Daily Star (2007) Daily Star (2007)


Several webpage’s are providing national tourism information, e.g. Gateway Bangladesh, Bangladesh Online and Discovery Bangladesh.

the potential of the Bangladeshi tourist product; these same phrases are often used in local sales promotion.

Land of enormous beauty, hundreds of serpentine rivers, The main source of the tourist promotion of Bangladesh abroad is the few foreign tour operators selling this destination. The profiles of these companies often include concepts of sustainable travel and development, and their tourist products are frequently aiming to improve the tourist’s knowledge and understanding of the destination society. In foreign markets Bangladesh is generally presented as a fairly undiscovered tourist destination as well as a country with developing problems, natural beauty and interesting cultural life. Several of these foreign tours operators are able to customise their Bangladeshi tours by including volunteer work, field study trips or visits to NGO projects, traditional companies and villages. The national tourist promotion of Bangladesh by the local tour operators seems to be highly influenced by national pride. The quote below is an example of the perception of 53

crystal clear water lakes surrounded by ever green hills, luxuriant tropical rain forests, beautiful cascades of green tea gardens, world's largest mangrove forest preserved as World Heritage, home of the Royal Bengal Tiger and the wild lives, warbling of birds in green trees, wind in the paddy fields, abundance of sunshine, world's longest natural sea beach, rich cultural heritage, relics of ancient Buddhist civilizations and colourful tribal lives, Bangladesh creates an unforgettable impression of a land of peace and tranquillity.53

In the home market tourist promotion every company is generally on their own. Sales promotion in English is common, as to the extent that some companies do not promote to the local market in the native language. Brochures, business cards and

Tour Planers Ltd. (2008)


word of mouth seem to be important marketing channels, as not all companies have a web-page. To attract tourists the local tourist operators often outbid competitors in professionalism, quality, service, linguistic skills, sustainable development, adventure and unique tourist products.

Comparing the tours of the different operators, few stands out with a distinct profile and product while the majority seems to offer quit similar tours and sales phrases. To a western observer the linguistic promotion promises sometimes also conflict with a poor photo quality, especially when showing a low or different quality concept of facilities and service.


The future Bangladeshi tourist supply

Travel & Tourism is a catalyst for construction and manufacturing also in Bangladesh. In 2007 the public and private sectors combined were expected to invest 764.8 million US$ on Travel & Tourism or 4.6% of total investment. By 2017, this amount should reach 1,864.3 million US$, corresponding to 4.4% of total investment. The Bangladeshi level of investments in Travel & Tourism is not exceptional. Worldwide in 2007, Travel & Tourism Capital Investment were expected to reach 1,155,427.0 billion US$, equivalent to 9.5% of total annual worldwide investment. At the year 2017 the investments in this line of business is predicted to reach 2,392,765.0 billion US$, or 9.9% of the total world investment. In South Asia,


Travel & Tourism Capital Investment is expected to total 23,306.0 million US$ in 2007, or 8.0% of total regional capital investment.54 The Bangladeshi aviation industry followed the globally growth rate in 2007, with a 7.6 percent growth. To fulfil a steadily growing demand for air transport several private airline operators operating in Bangladesh are planning to expanded their activities. This expansion includes adding more aircraft to their fleet, new international destinations and raising the numbers of flights to both international and national destinations.55

Bangladeshi government and private tourist sector are represented by organisations, nevertheless co-operation, strategies and policies aiming at developing a prosperous and sustainable tourist industry are rear - and not always implemented if they exist.


The potential of the tourism industry

The tourism industry is quite a young line of business in Bangladesh, where the development predominantly has been left to the local market forces. Today this market has both local and international tourist players competing for the small existing market, primarily composed of a local tourist market and a foreign business market. The To develop the Bangladeshi tourism industry successfully 54 55

World Travel & Tourism Council (2007a) Daily Star (2008)

a local based strategy is crucial - without visions, missions, goals and policies for this line of business


the development is largely uncontrolled. Here by there is a possibility that an undesired or destroying tourist development takes place, often influent by powerful foreign tourist players. Political and/or private initiatives can control a national tourism development as well as introduce initiatives to strengthen the influence of local communities.56 The political history of Bangladesh seems to indicate that the private sector should have a large influence if the national tourism development is to be sustainable and consistent. The future tourism strategy should have two primary aims. First; the development has to be sustainable including economical, cultural and environmental considerations. The term sustainable can be determined as: “Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.57 As tourism often causes both positive and negative influence on a destination the phenomena and control of a sustainable development is

complex. Every destination has an ultimate sustainable load, but a generally and objective definition of this sustainable limit do not exist.58

56 57

Denman, R. (2001) Shaller, D. T. part 2, page 2

Butler, R. W. (1997)


The second aim for a Bangladeshi tourism strategy is that actions should be taken to increase the tourist income by raising the numbers of tourists, the income pr. tourist or the average length of stay. In this regard it is obvious to focus on existing local markets as well as to aim for the traditionally profitable inbound tourist market. The low existing inbound tourism demand indicates that fundamental product and promotion improvement is required. Strategically product improvement must take into account that “International travellers have a much higher service expectation than most domestic travellers, they judge operators (and hence destinations) on the basis of their professionalism. And although there may be many professional operations in Bangladesh, both large and small, there is a terrible lack of connection between their products and the discerning dollar-spending traveller.”59 To meet the expectations of the foreign market investments in the existing infrastructure and other tourism related services seems to be necessary. Likewise 59 (2008b)


product improvement must result in a desired tourist product, which must take existing Bangladeshi attraction supply and foreign demand into account. The Bangladeshi destination already awakes life lessons and eye-opening experiences to expatriates and some of the existing product potential lies in trekking, beach resorts, wildlife and the everyday life of the Bangladeshi people. One possible national product improvement strategy60 therefore is to develop the Bangladeshi tourist destination inspired by the philosophy of responsible travel. This philosophy “redefines the way people travel around the world. [The responsible traveller] wants a holiday that minimises his/her impact on the environment and detrimental influence on local cultures, while simultaneously enlightening themselves about the world abroad.”61 The responsible target market generally travel for a longer time period, they would most likely buy a guided round trip in Bangladesh and/or including nearby countries e.g. Nepal, India, Burma and Bhutan. Responsible travel is a

world niche market increasing especially in USA and Europe.62

Regarding strategically tourism promotion, the second improvement proposed to attract the inbound market, this should be more unanimous and go far beyond the slogan: ’Visit Bangladesh: Before Tourists come’.

60 61

Inspired by (2008b) and Daily Star (2007) (2008a) 62

Kristelig Dagblad (2008)


The Bangladeshi tourism industry can be criticized for lacking marketing professionalism, which is severely crippling the industry’s inbound and expatriate tourism growth.63 The solution is that the local operators’ provide the tourists with truthful, well researched and easy-tounderstand information on what a journey to the country will be like, and why it will be memorable. In the process of accessing new foreign tourist markets the expatriates can be considered a pivotal springboard, as one can never underestimate the power of the word of mouth. Before Bangladeshi tour operators can do any kind of job reaching the outside world, they need to convince the expat market first.


According to Mikey Leung, travel journalist and initiative to the

webpage, and Majbritt Thomsen, the author of this paper.



Executive summary

This paper provides an introduction to the Bangladeshi tourist sector focusing on its general status and development potential. It is the hope to increase the interest of the Danish tourism business in Bangladesh as well as draw the attention to the development possibilities through the DANIDA B2B programme. Reality in Bangladesh is not as devastating as the international image of the country indicates. The country show a number of positive development indications in spite of huge challenges related to geography, climate, history, population and national economy. Tourism has since the 1990s been a small but rapidly growing sector of the economy. Foreign embassies request travellers in Bangladesh to be alert to several safety and security issues, nevertheless crime rates have traditionally been low compared to other areas of the world. General travel advice is to be well informed of world events and local developments, avoid potential dangerous situations and travel responsibly. Due to historical isolation Bangladeshi culture and history is distinct. The six national divisions offer both individually and combining a variety of natural and cultural destinations suitable for tourist attractions. The Bangladeshi authorities are concerned with safeguarding its heritage, including an extraordinary intangible heritage and the traditional Bengali handicraft. Nevertheless the standard for preservation, development and level of international appeal of these resources are affected both by a low sustainable commercial use and several national


challenges. Sustainable tourist development could have a major positive impact.

the tourism industry. This might change in the future as the travel and tourism activity is forecast to increase worldwide, regionally and nationally. The most successful organisations in the global tourism market will be those who are quickest and most flexible in reacting to the unforeseen. The tourism industry is quite a young line of business in Bangladesh. It is predominantly developed by local market forces to the national tourist market and a foreign urban business market. Organisations represent the government and private tourist sector, but co-operation, strategies and policies to develop a prosperous and sustainable tourist industry are rear. Both local and international tourist players are competing for the existing market, but no

Target groups in the Bengalis tourism industry are: inbound tourists; the local high and middle class and expats. Lack of update data makes it difficult to conclude the tourism demand status and potential, but possible growth are indicated in all three target markets. Bangladesh is one of the countries in the South Asian region that has the least arrivals and revenue earned from

Bangladeshi tour operator works abroad, and no foreign tour operator work in Bangladesh. The present and future level of national investments in the travel and tourism sector is lower than the average world and regional investments levels.


To successfully develop the Bangladeshi tourism industry a local based strategy is crucial. This strategy should aim both at sustainable development (including economical, cultural and environmental considerations) and increasing tourist income. It is obvious to focus on existing local markets as well as to aim for the traditionally profitable inbound tourist market. The low existing inbound tourism demand indicates though that fundamental product and promotion improvement is required. Before Bangladeshi tour operators can do any kind of job reaching the outside world they need to convince the expat market first.


British High Commission in Dhaka, Bangladesh


Reference Butler, R. W. (1997) ‘The concept of carrying capacity for tourism destinations: dead or merely buried?’ In ‘Tourism development: Environmental an Community issues’, Wiley, 1997 CIA - The world Factbook (2008) ‘Bangladesh’

A Global World Products (2008) ‘Bangladesh’ American Embassy – Dhaka, Bangladesh (2008) ‘Issuance to start by July next year’ ce-to-start-by-july-next-year-2/ (2008) ‘Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation’ m Banglapedia (2006) ‘National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh’ CD edition, Asiatic society of Bangladesh Daily Star (2008) ‘Private airlines take off, aim higher’ Hasan, R. & Chowhury, S. A. Daily Star (2007) ‘Responsible tourism’ Islam, A. in Forum ism.htm


DANIDA (2008) ‘Landefakta Bangladesh’ /landefaktaasien/bangladesh.htm DAWC ‘Yellow Pages’ (2005) ed. Bangladesh Denman, R. (2001) ‘WWF: Guidelines for communitybased ecotourism development’, p 10ff. Discovery Bangladesh (2008) ‘Bangladesh: Science & Technology’ cience_technology.html Dulahazara Safari Park

Encyclopedia of the Nations (2007b) ‘Bangladesh – Overview of economy’ Encyclopedia of the Nations (2007c) ‘Bangladesh - Poverty and wealth’ Embassy of Denmark, Dhaka Bangladesh

Encyclopedia of the Nations (2007a) ‘Bangladesh – Country Overview’

Embassy of Norway in Bangladesh Embassy of Sweden in Bangladesh


International Herald Time (2006) ’Commentary: Why Goldman Sachs may be right about Bangladesh’ muk.php?page=1#end_main (2008a) ‘It’s a dogfight: airline competition heats up in Bangladesh’ (2008b) ‘Captive Market’ (2008c) ‘Security advice for Dhaka, especially for women’ Kristelig Dagblad (2008) ’Etisk turisme vinder frem’ Lonely Planet (2004) ‘Bangladesh’ McAdam. M. Lonely Planet (2008a) (2008b) ‘Bangladesh holidays’ try100038.htm Shaller, D. T. (2008) ‘Indigenous ecotourism and sustainable Development: The case of Rio Blanco, Ecuador’ Sustainable Development Networking Programme (SDNP) (2005b) ‘Disaster Prevention: Earthquake’ ngladesh/disaster/earthquake.htm Sustainable Development Networking Programme (SDNP) (2005c) ‘World Environment Day 2005: From Grim City to Green City’ ngladesh/index.htm


Sustainable development Network Programme (SDNP) (2008) TOAB (2006) ’List of the TOAB members’ Tour Planers Ltd. (2008) ‘Bangladesh’ UNESCO (2008a) ‘Bangladesh’ UNESCO (2008b) ‘Culture-Bangladesh’ html UNESCO (2008c) ‘Seal of Excellence (SEAL) programme’ Weaver, D. & Lawton, L. (2002) ‘Tourism Management’. 2. ed. John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd (2008a) ‘Zia International Airport’ (2008b) ‘Bangladesh’ (2007) ‘Bangladesh imposes five-year limit on foreign work permits’ World Travel & Tourism Council (2007a) ‘Bangladesh Travel & Tourism – navigating the path ahead’ Satellite_Accounting/TSA_Country_Reports/Bangladesh/ World Travel & Tourism Council Bangladesh (2007b) ‘Executive Summary Travel & Tourism - navigating the path ahead’ esummary2007.pdf


Country Bhutan India Maldives Nepal Pakistan Sri Lanka Bangladesh 5

Tourist arrivals (in thousands)64
1997 1998 6 2382 396 464 429 409 172 1999 7 2482 430 492 432 465 173 2000 8 2649 467 464 557 445 199 2001 6 2537 461 361 500 397 207 2002 6 2384 485 275 498 457 207 2003 6 2726 564 338 479 583 244 2004 9 3371 616 385 648 566 271 2005 13,6 3919 395 375 798 669 208 2006 NA NA NA NA NA NA 200


Players in the local tourism business

Accommodation Elenga Resort Esmeralda Resort Hillside Resort Hotel Naz Garden Hotel Swiss Park Bangladesh Jamuna Resort Nazimgarh Resort Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel 2006 NA NA NA NA NA NA NA

2395 366 422 375 384 183

Country Bhutan India Maldives Nepal Pakistan Sri Lanka Bangladesh 6

Tourism revenue (in millions US$)65
1997 1998 8 2948 303 153 98 231 52 1999 9 3009 314 229 492 414 50 2000 10 3168 321 219 551 388 50 2001 9 3042 327 191 533 347 48 2002 8 3013 337 134 562 594 57 2003 8 3533 402 232 618 692 58 2004 13 4769 471 260 765 808 67 2005 19 NA 287 160 827 729 70

Sarina Hotel Dhaka Seagull Hotel's_bazar.htm Sheraton Hotel Radisson Water Garden Hotel Dhaka Royal Resort The Westin Hotel Dhaka

2889 286 116 117 212 62

64 65

Daily Star (2007) Daily Star (2007)


Transportation Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation (BIWTC) Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation Royal Bengal (Aviana Airways Ltd.) United Airways (BD) Ltd. Zia International Airport Tourist information Bangladesh Online Discovery Bangladesh Joy Bangla Gateway Bangladesh

Tour operators Amazing Holidays Bangladesh Ecotours Classic Tours & Travels Contic Delta Outdoors Excursion Bangladesh Experience Bangladesh (USA) Galaxy Travel International Grace Tours (Denmark) Guide Tours Ltd. Undiscovered Destinations (UK) UNITAS rejser (Denmark)

Tourist organisations Parjatan (The Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation) TOAB (Tour Operators Association of Bangladesh)



Prices in Bangladesh

Bangkok, Thailand to Dhaka, Bangladesh from US$672

The national currency is the Taka divided in 100 paisa. 100 Taka was US$1.45 or 6.75 Danish Kroner according to (19. April 2008) Bangladesh experienced low to moderate inflation over the last one decade, except for the year 1997-1998 when the consumer price index climbed to 9%. The index hovered around 7% or below 2005-2006. The price in food prices averaged at 6% per year during 1996-97 to 2005-06. But in 2007-2008, Bangladesh is confronted with a high-price level that promises to stick around for an unforeseeable future, giving the scarcity in food supply and the countries vulnerability to weather. (Published On: 2008-04-18)66 Transportation International flights67 (return) Copenhagen, Denmark to Dhaka, Bangladesh from US$1372 London, UK to Dhaka, Bangladesh from US$906 66 67

National flights United Airways Ltd. One way promotion fares: Dhaka to Jessore 2600 Taka Dhaka to Cox’s Bazar 4200 Taka Sylhet to Chittagong 4000 Taka Royal Bengal Dhaka to Chittagong 3520 Taka Dhaka to Sylhet 3175 Taka Chittagong to Cox’s Bazar 1995 Taka Tourist accommodation The Westin Hotel Dhaka US$211 Double room, US$ 196 Single room. Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel US$184 Double room, US$ 173 Single room. Sheraton Hotel US$179 Double room, US$169 Single room. Sarina Hotel Dhaka US$105 Double room, US$ 91 Single room.

Daily Star (2008a) search 19. of April 2008


Resorts/hotels outside Dhaka: Hillside Resort, Bandarban, Chittagong Division Cottages (double) from 1200 Taka Tribal houses (double) from 800 TK Royal Resort, Dhanbari, Tangail, Dhaka Division Palace, rooms from 75 US$, suite 175 US$ Villa, room from 25 US$ Bungalows, from 60 US$ Cottage, from 40US$ Jamuna Resort, Jamuna River, Rajshahi Division Cottage from 6000.00 TK Suites from 4250.00 TK Elenga Resort, Kalihati, Rajshahi Division Cottages of different sizes from 5500TK Dormitory style from 2750 TK Dormitory style from 660 TK double Seagull Hotel, Cox’s Bazar, Chittagong Division Presidential suite (Double) US$250 Suites (Double) US$108 Deluxe sea view (Double) US$54 Regular sea view (Double) US$45

Hotel Pashur, Khulna, Khulna Division (Parjatan Hotel) AC room 1200 Taka No AC room 600 Taka Domestic Tour Package Contic (1 night 2 days boat trip) Dhaka-Srimongol-Dhaka Super deluxe 7000 Taka/person Deluxe 5000 Taka/person Economy 3500 Taka/person Contic (2 nights 3 days boat trip) Dhaka-Cox’s Bazar Dhaka Super deluxe 10.500 Taka/person Deluxe 8500 Taka/person Economy 5500 Taka/person Safari plus (3 days 3 nights) Bandarban, Chittagong District Standard 2850 Taka/person Executive 3950 Taka/person Safari plus (3 days 3 nights) Sylhet, Sylhet Division Standard 4850 Taka/person Executive 6950 Taka/person


The tiger trail (3 days 2 nights) Cox’s Bazar, Chittagong District From US$225 The tiger trail (2 days 1 night) Sylhet, Sylhet District From US$80 The tiger trail (2 days 1 night) Rajshahi, Rajshahi Division From US$105 Salary Unskilled worker e.g. construction labor 200-300 Taka a day Office employee 12.000 Taka/month Average manger 35.000 Taka/month

Milk (local) 100 Taka/L Milk (imported) 140 taka /L Danish butter (imported) 50 Taka /100 g KFC menu 250 Taka Chicken (800 grams) Taka 200 Coarse rice 30-40 Taka per kg Fine rice 80-100 Taka a kg. Non-brand Soya bean Taka 108-110 per kg Super palm oil Taka 101-103 a kg Fuel Petrol 68 Taka a litter Gas (car) 8 Taka a litter Gas (house) 400 Taka a month

Internet Private 96 Kbps 3000 Taka a month Corporate 256 Kbps 25.300 Taka a month Corporate 512 Kbps 40.000 Taka a month Mortgage payment Up quarters in Dhaka Apartment 2000 sqf. (181 sqm.) 65.000 Taka a month Food Club membership International Club Monthly fee family (US$75) and single US$45 Dutch Club Monthly fee family (US$100) and single US$50 American Club Monthly fee family (US$60) and single US$30



SWOT analysis of the Bangladeshi tourism sector68

tourists was 165.887 tourists recorded in 1996, the highest was 271.270 tourists in 2004. What products are accentually and potentially available? Due to historical isolation Bangladeshi culture and history is distinct from many countries. Bangladesh offers a variety of natural and cultural tourist destinations, some on the UNESCO Heritage List. The traditional Bengali handicraft is cheap The present society and the developing process are interesting tourist attractions sold primary by foreign tour operators to the inbound market. The national transport, whether it is by air, land or water, is cheap. Slow existing transportation by road, rail and water can be an adventure with the right positive attitude. A variety of tourist accommodation facilities are offered in rural and urban Bangladesh. Most investment has been don in the Business related tourism and the metropolitan cities. Bangladesh is concerned with safeguarding a heritage



Internal environment of the Bangladeshi tourist destination

What is the current level of patronage, and how does this compare with past trends? Tourists in Bangladesh are inbound tourists, Bangladeshi middle and high class or expats. There is a lack of knowledge about demand in the Bangladeshi tourism business, particular regarding the Bangladeshi middle and high class and the expatriated community. Inbound tourism registration exist for the period 19962005. Average number of inbound tourists in the period was 203.015 tourists. The lowest number of inbound


This SWOT analysis is mainly inspired by Daily Star (2007) and

damaged by increased salinity and climate change. (2008)


Nevertheless sustainable commercial use of these resources is often low, which affect the standard for preservation, development and level of international appeal. Bangladesh is a fairly new and rarely visited inbound tourist destination, which can attract an adventure searching tourist market. The world image of Bangladesh can inspire to several new sustainable tourist attractions to increase understanding of the countries history and developing challenges. Interested in the effects of global warming can become a new inbound travel market in Bangladesh, as the country is one of the 10 countries most vulnerable to a rise in sea level. The tourism potential in Bangladesh can be developed through implementation of multilateral and inter-regional projects or co-operation with foreign travel companies. gives two examples of sustainable co-operation holidays in Bangladesh, where foreign providers are committed to support local people and the environment.69 69

Who are the customers, and how are they segmented? Bangladesh attracts inbound tourists from many countries; several pull-factors are expected and the tourist activity is spread throughout the year. South Asia and Europe are the larges inbound regions and India, UK and USA are the larges inbound countries. Local travel market is part of the growing urban population, which live much like their Western counterparts. 12 million passport holders and a decrease in annual working days since 2005 are estimated to have a positive effect on the local travel market. Expatriated Bangladeshis represent a word of mouth access to several potential national target markets. Moving back to their native country some further more represent a valuable skilled workforce in the tourism sector. The urban expatriated community in Bangladesh represents a variety of nationalities average years of stay seems to be between 2-5 years. The all year present expat community in Bangladesh is a wealthy and travel (2008b)


consuming target market, which further more represent a word of mouth access to several potential national target markets. What are the activities and behaviour of the costumers? In terms of existing tourist products, both inbound and home market, Rajshahi, Sylhet, Chittagong and Khulna Division are the main tourist divisions. Sundarbarns, Cox’ Bazar and Chittagong Hill Tracks are some of the most popular tourist destinations.

The national aviation industry are expanding, as the Bangladeshi aviation industry followed the globally growth rate in 2007. 8.5.2. Weaknesses

Internal environment of the Bangladeshi tourist destination What is the current level of visitation, and how does this compare with past trends? What products are accentually and potentially available?

To what extent are costumers satisfied with the available products? Several travel experienced expats argue that the best experiences in Bangladesh are to be found outside Dhaka. What are the available financial and human resources? The tourism industry has low construction, running and salary expenses. Labour force is reliable and abundant. English is commonly used by the tourism industry.

Several factors, e.g. amount of garbage and the condition of several attractions, indicate that the existing tourism business is not sustainable. The accessibility to tourist destinations and accommodations is negatively affected by non-availability of adequate infrastructure, including domestic and international transportation. Existing beach life, Bangladeshi style, includes mud flats destinations loathed during high season and women bathing in a two-piece suit. This can not be sold as a typical western mass tourism sea destination.


The low existing inbound tourism demand indicates that fundamental product and promotion improvement is required. Tourism products should relate to the fact that Bangladesh is a Modern Muslim society and a densely populated developing country, which has been historical isolated. Sustainable tourism product is one such solution. Tourists, especially inbound tourists, need a guide or a high level of knowledge to travel safely and responsible (culture and nature awareness) in Bangladesh. Who are the customers, and how are they segmented?

Social insecurity: Local people do not have visitor experience, so tourists sometime feel uneasy in some places. Several expats, who have no experience with urban Bangladesh, base their perception of rural Bangladesh on their impressions of the capital city. What are the available financial and human resources? The Bangladeshi level of investments in Travel & Tourism is not exceptional, compared with regional and worldwide annual investment. The tourism industry is vulnerable due a short high season and a large local market share. Inadequate trained manpower.

What are the activities and behaviour of the costumers? The tourism industry is quite a young line of business in To what extent are costumers satisfied with the available products? Several tourist products do not live up to a western concept of quality and service. Travelling time and safety are relevant obstacles to the local expat target market. Bangladesh, where the development predominantly has been left to the local market forces. The tourism development is largely uncontrolled in Bangladesh as no marketing or developing policy exists, in spite of the fact that the Bangladeshi government and private tourist sector are represented by organisations


(Parjatan and TOAB). There is a lack of knowledge about demand, supply and competitors in the Bangladeshi tourism business. There is a low level of co-operation and innovation in the tourism sector. Tourism industry lacks marketing professionalism, which is severely crippling the industry’s inbound tourism growth. In the home market tourist promotion every company is generally on their own. It is expensive and ineffective for local operators to reach the worldwide market at the current time. The inbound tourism marketing is primarily preformed by few foreign tour operators. This fact indicates that the Bangladeshi tour operators are loosing income to their foreign competitors. 8.5.3. Opportunities The interim government provides travellers with a form of relative stability. Furthermore this government is fighting corruption and bureaucratic procedures. Despite some unfathomable hindrances national economy is improving and the country is showing positive development. The seasonal weather is relatively stable; especially the cold season is comfortable for travelling. Bangla and English speaking population the last mentioned primarily consist of well educated urban people. Strong linguistic, cultural and historical connections exist to England, Pakistan and India. Number of tourists in Bangladesh is estimated to increase due to generally growing local, regional and world tourism travel activities. Responsible tourism is a growing world market niche.

General environment of the Bangladeshi tourism system Bangladesh is a Democratic Muslim state more interesting in national developing challenges than the conflicts between the ‘Western’ and ‘Muslim’ world. The country is a liberal democracy and has a generally homogeneous society and one dominant religion.

Competing destinations or businesses Inbound travel pattern to nearby tourist countries correspond to the best travel season in Bangladesh.


Bangladesh has a strategic stopover position in the region to the larges inbound tourist destination in the region, India, as well as two prominent world ecotourism destination, Nepal and Bhutan. 8.5.4. Threats

The preservation of natural and historical attractions is just one challenge between several to the Bangladeshi society.

Competing destinations or businesses South Asia is the most under represented region in tourism terms. Competing regional countries to Bangladesh, except for Bhutan, have more arrivals and revenue earned from Tourism. The future average annual tourism investment worldwide and in the South Asian regional is far larger than in Bangladesh.

General environment of the Bangladeshi tourism system Infrastructural development is required, especial road and rail is a significant obstacle for the tourism sector. Technological development is required. Low levels of basic education coupled with lack of the latest technical and managerial

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