Lack of infrastructural development in the travel and tourism sector of Bangladesh -Rifat Hossen


Bangladesh has a variegated global tourist zone in the world. Despite having diverse tourism resources and zones, Bangladesh is at the back of foreign tourist attraction. Although many countries in Asia have taken various initiatives to attract tourists to overcome the crisis of the corona epidemic, the pictures of Bangladesh is absolutely inverse. Tourism means a person who leaves his home for travel or peaceful recreation for a period of more than 24 hours but less than 1 year is considered a tourist. But if it is for work, he will not be treated as a tourist.
In 2021 World Economic Forum’s Travel and Tourism Development Indexes, Bangladesh has a very back of ranks among 117 countries. The position of Bangladesh is 110th. It was 113th in 2019. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, the tourism sector of Bangladesh has considerable potential geographically. But even after 50 years of independence, the tourism industry remains in its novice stage. The travel and tourism sector contributes 2.2 percent to the country’s GDP. And contribution to employment generation is 1.8 percent. But even with weaker infrastructure than Bangladesh, Nepal is far ahead in tourism. The contribution of this sector to the country’s GDP is 9 percent.

The Bangladesh Institute of Development Research (BIDS) has said that the country’s tourism sector has suffered a loss of Tk. 60,000 crore due to the epidemic. At this time, there were hardly any foreign tourists.  With the information of a survey, the organization said that 1 lakh 41 thousand people have lost their jobs in the tourism sector due to epidemic. Of the total losses, 40 percent was in transport, 29 percent in hotels and 25 percent in resorts and restaurants.  But there is no big program to turn around the tourism sector once again after dealing with the shock of Covid-19.
Tourism is increasingly becoming a wheel power of economic prosperity in Bangladesh, continuously bringing diverse positive and negative collisions for the economy. Tourism industry is an engine for economic growth of any country because of its multiplier effects on many backward and forward linkage sectors. It is a business of multidimensional segments with coordinated linkages and profound synchronization. But lack of infrastructures, poor law and order and absence of tourist-friendly attitude among people are major challenges for expanding tourism in the country.

The problem of overspending is currently one of the major problems in the tourism sector of Bangladesh. Although a medium size of living room in a hotel of Cox’s Bazar, cost TK 800 to 1000 daily three years ago, now the cost rises to TK 1500 to 2000. Similarly, the rent of a air conditioned room has risen to TK 2500 to 3000 from 1500 to 2000. But during the tourist season, this amount could be the doubles. And there is no security setup in the remaining area for tourists. Tourists feel lack of security after sunset and the irregular service of electricity. The situation is same in the second top destination of the domestic tourists, Sylhet. Despite the hike of prices of food, lodging and transport tourists face many hassles while traveling the beautiful places like Jaflong, Ratargul and Bisnakandi. There is no up to mark toilets for women and children. In most of the spots there are no good restaurants. And these places also have problems regarding the security of the tourists. Three years ago, a meal including fish or meat would cost around Tk 200 in Cox’s Bazar. Now that has increased to Tk. 100 to 320. On the other hand the fare of AC bus from Cox’s Bazar to Dhaka has increased from Tk. 100 to 400. Now, bus fare for one person in AC bus is from Tk. 1000 to 2500.

One of the tourist spots of the country, St. Martin, tourists are now in unfeathered condition in this Island. Tourists as well as locals are suffering due to the recent closure of St. Martin ships from Teknaf because of Myanmar issue. As a result, the price of daily necessities, ship rent, and residential cost has increased a lot. While the fare of the ship on the Teknaf-St Martin route was Tk.500-800, tourists have to pay Tk.3000-5000 on the Karnaphuli Express. Everyone complains about Karnaphuli Express’ monopoly on the Chittagong-St. Martin route.
Since the corona epidemic, the attraction of domestic and foreign people towards tourism has doubled. People are trying to get peace in mind by traveling in different places but the lack of infrastructural development of tourism sectors in Bangladesh, foreign tourists as well as domestic tourists are turning away from tourism. Foreign tourists are not attracted due to lack of infrastructural development. But to attract tourists from home and abroad, there are many attractions in the country including the world’s longest beach in Cox’s Bazar, St. Martin’s, Kuakata to watch the sunrise and sunset, Nijhum Island, Sylhet’s tea plantations, Sundarbans, Bandarban-Rangamati’s hilly places, various antiquities and so on. Those who concerned with the tourism sector say that the country’s tourism sector is running like this year after year due to lack of propagation promote, lack of coordination, lack of planning and not being able to create the environment.
Government has to play an important role to overcome the infrastructural problem of tourism sector. Foreign tourists can be attracted if the tourist centers can be developed to international standards. Only then the country’s tourism sector will be able to turn around. For this, both public and private infrastructural development is needed.  An environment to invest in tourist centers should be created.

The author of this article is a Student Department of Sociology, University of Chittagong.