Political unrest stunts tourism growth
TOURISM is a very fragile industry. Unlike other industries, the buyers (tourists) come to the product, i.e. to enjoy the service. The promotion and development of tourism also depends on image and a favourable socio-politico-economic condition. If there is any unrest, tourists will not come to risk their lives.
"We have already invested more the Tk.1,500 crore and want to invest more to attract foreign tourists in the country, but the current political situation is frustrating us," Mr. Khabir Uddin, President of Tourism Resort Industries Association of Bangladesh (TRIAB) said.
This season, there has been political unrest throughout the country. Some tourist generating countries have already put up a red-alert for their citizens to refrain from visiting Bangladesh. Many tour operators, specially the in-bound tour operators, are counting their losses, as many foreign tourists have already cancelled their bookings. Domestic tourism activities are also coming to a halt.
The potential foreign investors in tourism industry of Bangladesh are also feeling unsafe in investing here. More foreign investment in the tourism industry means more employment generation in the country.
In Bangladesh, the tourist season starts from October and continues till the end of February. During this period, tour operators earn their big bucks for the whole year. Unfortunately, political unrest is taking place during this period. As vehicles and transport cannot move due to strike, tourists have to stay in the hotels. In this way, tour operators and ground service providers at the tourist attraction sites lose their businesses.
A research showed that about 80 sectors are directly and indirectly involved with the tourism industry. When a strike is called it affects the tourism industry, involving all the 80 sectors. The WTTC revealed in 2012 that about 12,81,500 people were directly involved (1.8% of total employment of the country) and 27,14,500 were people indirectly involved in tourism sector of Bangladesh, which will reach 38,91,000 by 2023 i.e. about 4.3% of total employment of the country. What will happen to these people involved in the tourism industry if the political unrest persists for a long time?
Tourists want a congenial atmosphere for free movement and tension-free enjoyment. Bangladesh is a tourism potential country, and tourists like to visit the country. But political unrest dampens their interest.
The writer is Deputy Manager of Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation.