Malaysia is witnessing a rapid increase in the number of Bangladeshi tourists while Nepal saw a decline, said officials yesterday.
Malaysia received 154,000 Bangladeshi tourists in 2018, up from 111,000 a year ago, according to the Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board.
On the other hand, the 2017 US-Bangla plane crash in Kathmandu cost the Himalayan country a lot of visits, which dropped by more than 10 percent in 2018 from that the year before.
“Access to flights, easy visa processing and religious sentiments are the major attractions for Bangladeshi travellers choosing to visit Malaysia,” said Mohammed Shoeb, marketing manager of Tourism Malaysia.
He said impressive economic growth of Bangladesh in recent years was prompting citizens to opt for leisure abroad.
Talking to The Daily Star on the closing day of “Novoair Dhaka Travel Mart 2019” at the Pan Pacific Sonargaon hotel, Shoeb said, “We came here to promote Malaysia's tourism sector, inform travellers of new destinations and attract visitors for availing healthcare.”
Diwakar B Rana, senior manager of the Nepal Tourism Board, echoed Shoeb.
Rana said Bangladeshis like to visit Nepal but the number of travellers came down to 25,979 in 2018 from 29,060 in 2017. According to him, the number of travellers would have surely increased had the crash not occurred.
Tour operators said only Biman Bangladesh Airlines runs Dhaka-Kathmandu flights, the fare for which was comparatively high. This is another reason for the gradual drop in the number of Bangladeshi tourists, they said.
Rana says that Nepal has attractions different from those in the rest of the world alongside similarities in cultures, two aspects that would prove key to raising traveller numbers.
If more flights are available, people will visit Nepal more and more, he said. The Bangladesh Tourism Board has no reliable data on outbound tourists, said the board's Assistant Director Mohibul Islam, reasoning that it was of no concern for them.
Md Jamil Fazal, business development manager of Connecting 365 Limited, which works directly with the Thai Tourism Authority, said the Thai embassy provides 200 visas to Bangladeshis on an average every day.
He further said around 60,000 Bangladeshis visit Thailand every year, a good number of which were for medical treatment.
Tour operators also mentioned of Dubai and Egypt, saying the destinations were becoming popular destinations for Bangladeshis, a shift from the conventional options chosen in neighbouring countries of Asia.
A senior official of Mountain Club Tours said they ran at least 120 packages to Dubai every month while almost 70 to Egypt. According to the fair organisers, 41 entities such as tourism organisations, airlines, tour operators, hotels, resorts, online booking portals and healthcare service providers from seven countries, including Bangladesh and Indonesia, displayed their products and services.
Nepal joined the fair as a partner country.