Bangladesh is on the path to reviving its tourism industry post-pandemic. The progress of its relentless efforts is evident from the growth in the number of international visitors over the year. The sector witnessed a growth of 59% in annual revenues in foreign currency in 2021.
Based on data collected from Bangladesh Tourism Board, the revenue from incoming travellers in 2021 is BDT 2,279 crore 27 lac, which is almost double the BDT 1,196 crore 2 lac revenue collected in 2020.
To this day, the highest contribution to the national treasury by the inbound tourism sector stood at BDT 2,949 crore 97 lac in 2018. Fortunately, the tremendous growth in inbound tourism revenues in 2021 come very close to that benchmark. Hence, if this upward trajectory remains static, in no time this sector will reach revenues higher than in pre-pandemic times.
Abu Taher Md Jaber, the CEO of Bangladesh Tourism Board, credits this level of growth to business travellers and foreigners working in Bangladesh or activists.
He stated, “In 2020 and 2021, leisure tourists rarely visited the country owing to Covid-19. Travel and flight restrictions were prevalent all over the world and even in Bangladesh. Hence, the international arrivals were mostly business travellers and foreigners working in the country.”
Anyhow, despite having a vast potential for tourism, Bangladesh is still yet to become a popular leisure vacation destination for foreigners, which could hinder the progress of its tourism industry.
Industry insiders claim poor tourism and aviation infrastructure, complicated visa policies, and lack of proper transportation as well as recreational facilities; as the reason behind this poor number of leisure tourists.
Incidentally, according to some reports, Indian diplomats in Dhaka and Bangladeshi diplomats in New Delhi, Guwahati and Kolkata believe that the construction of the Padma bridge will increase the number of Indian and Nepalese tourists by 25-50%.
Initiatives are being taken by the government to turn Saidpur Airport into a regional one and Cox’s Bazar Airport into an international one, so a foreign tourist zone can be established in Cox’s Bazar. Another effort to take tourism to new heights is to develop tourism parks throughout the country.
Professor Akbaruddin Ahmad, the Former President of the Tour Operators’ Association of Bangladesh, said, “The government is even planning to connect the southern-western part of the country with the capital through improved road and railway networks in phases.”