There is a lack of initiatives to explore the potentials of inbound tourism in Bangladesh and the authorities concerned should take appropriate measures to attract foreign tourists, said experts and stakeholders in a seminar yesterday.
"The lack of worldwide publicity and marketing about our tourist attractions is one of the reasons behind the low number of foreign tourists visiting Bangladesh. Our missions abroad have not been taking sufficient initiatives to attract the foreigners," Dr Selim Jahan, former director of the Human Development Report Office of the UNDP, New York, said as the keynote speaker at the seminar titled "Bangabandhu's development Philosophy: The Potential of Bangladesh Tourism Industry and Sonargaon Hotel."
"Various ministries and bodies are involved in the tourism sector, but the lack of coordination is a major problem for this sector," he said at the event organised by the Hotel International limited, the owning company of Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel, Dhaka.
He emphasised on developing the tour guides' communication skills in English and other prominent languages.
In the open discussion session at the seminar, the speakers said there is no comprehensive data on different issues related to the tourism sector, including the tourist number.
Around one crore Bangladeshis visit different tourist sites across the country every year, according to the Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation.
In 2019, around 3.2 lakh foreign tourists visited Bangladesh, according to the Bangladesh Tourism Board.
Stakeholders in the tourism sector claimed that most of the foreigners visiting Bangladesh are business travelers and the number of recreational tourists is very poor.
"Local people's purchasing capacity has increased, that is why domestic tourism has flourished in Bangladesh," said Md Mahbub Ali, state minister for civil aviation and tourism as the chief guest at the event.
Md Mahbub Ali said the civil aviation and tourism ministry is preparing a master plan addressing all the challenges in the tourism sector and it is expected to be completed within 2022.
"Tourism will be one of the important means to realise the dream of economic liberation of the people of Bangladesh. The tourism industry will reflect Bangabandhu's philanthropic development vision through the creation of employment, development of quality of life and rural areas, environmental protection, and implementation of an inclusive social development system highlighting the glorious history and heritage of Bengal to the world," he added.
Md Mokammel Hossain, secretary of the civil aviation and tourism ministry, said, "We are working in coordination with various ministries to take the tourism industry forward. In addition to government institutions, the private sector must come forward to expand tourism. All kinds of opportunities will be created for private entrepreneurs."
The seminar was held at Hotel Pan Pacific Sonargaon on the occasion of the Mujib Year.
Among others, Md Hannan Mia, chairman of Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation, and Dr Aminur Rahman Khan, managing director of Hotel International Limited, spoke at the event.