WHILE domestic tourism industry enjoys brisk business during the national holidays, especially during the two Eids, one cannot say the same for the rest of the year. The domestic traveler must book hotel space months in advance to visit one of the several popular destinations like Cox's Bazaar and the Chittagong Hill Tracts. Yet the country is rich in archaeological sites which far from being restored lie in various stages of ruins. And while the private sector has taken the initiative to develop requisite infrastructure in new areas like tea estates in the Sylhet region, remote areas boasting natural unspoiled stretches of sand like the Kuakata and Kotka beaches in the south of Patuakhali and the Sundarbans, respectively, remain off-limits to the bulk of domestic and foreign tourists.
Besides the cycles of political violence that has cost industry dearly last year, lack of proper communication infrastructure, i.e. road and rail links had played their due share in contributing to stifling tourism in the country. This is hardly conducive to an industry that contributed over Tk22,000 crore or 2.1 per cent of the country's GDP. Although we are heartened to learn that in the current fiscal, business from this sector will increase nearly 8 per cent, one can only speculate the rate of growth could have been had communications between the capital city and rest of the country were better. And it is here where policymakers need to concentrate because the private sector will step up with requisite investments to develop the rest of the physical infrastructure should conditions be made favourable in terms of communication.