Bangladesh eyes 10m tourists by 2041

BTB CEO Javed Ahmed tells Bangladesh Post

Published : 12 Mar 2022 08:07 PM | Updated : 12 Mar 2022 08:07 PM

Bangladesh has set a target of attracting 10 million tourists and a revenue of 8.00 billion US dollars by 2041 as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has set a vision of turning this country into developed one.

Javed Ahmed, Chief Executive Officer of Bangladesh Tourism Board, said this, adding that Bangladesh Tourism Board is preparing a master plan on the country’s tourism sector in cooperation with IPE Global Limited.

Javed Ahmed, while talking to Bangladesh Post, informed that IPE Global Limited is an Indian international development consulting group known for providing technical assistance and solutions for development and sustainable growth in developing countries. Realizing the vast potential and multi-dimensional benefits of tourism, the present government of Bangladesh has laid huge emphasis on developing it as a major economic sector of the country. Javed Ahmed said “The National Tourism Council (NTC), the apex body for tourism headed by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, gave a clear instruction to prepare a tourism development master plan. Following this, Bangladesh Tourism Board (BTB), the National Tourism Organization (NTO) under the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism, was given the responsibility to prepare a Tourism Master Plan in the 7th Five Year Plan period. 

Pursuant to this, BTB proceeded to select a reputed international Tourism Consulting Firm to prepare a short-term, mid-term and long-term Tourism Master Plan.” With this background an internationally reputed consultancy firm, IPE Global Ltd. was selected through competitive technical bidding process and were mandated to develop the Tourism Master Plan for Bangladesh, the CEO of the Bangladesh Tourism Board said. The plan was envisaged as a guiding document which shall ensure sustainable development of tourism and which shall provide a blueprint for planned development of the country’s tourism resources. The pandemic struck bringing the process to a halt, right after its initiation in January 2020 but now it has been rescheduled to complete by December 2022. The master plan team has a wide experience across the globe. The team consist of 5 international and 14 national experts. The international experts are from Scotland, France, Australia, Srilanka and India. The team is leaded by Benajmin Carrey (TL) from Scotland and Prof Dr. Nurul Islam Nazeem (DTL) from University of Dhaka. The Master plan is divided into three phases. Phase 1 is made up of two reports: The Inception Report and the Situational Analysis Report. The situational analysis consists of three reports, two of which were approved by the Monitoring Committee. During report 2, nearly 50 online and physical meetings with various stakeholders were held, 77 acts and policies were reviewed, 10 policies specific to the tourism sector were also reviewed, and 16 case studies of global comparison (Bhutan, Thailand, Indonesia, Maldives, etc.) with regard to tourism were completed.

The team is conducting extensive site visits and stakeholder consultations across the country for Phase I, Report 3. The team surveyed 1050 tourist destinations, including detailed infrastructure assessments and performance evaluations. The team conducted approximately 250+ accommodation and restaurant surveys, as well as 600 domestic tourist surveys, 100 international surveys, and many tour operators were consulted. The consultation process is still ongoing, and we hope to reach a higher number of people.  Along with all of this, nearly 50 online Focus Group Discussions with different districts have been held so far, a divisional workshop in Sylhet and Khulna has been completed, and others are scheduled in the coming weeks. In addition, the team consulted with approximately 1500 public and private stakeholders from across the country. The team has also identified 11 themes for promotion of tourism across the country. The team hopes to submit the report 3 by March 2022.

In phase II, Strategic Tourism Master Plan will be submitted, which will provide VISION & Strategic Direction’s for tourism industry and also a roadmap for implementation of interventions based on short term, medium term and long term targets. The last phase of the master plan is Phase 3, which has seven deliverables – Regional & Structural Plan, Niche Product Development Plan, Conceptual Architectural Plan, Action Plan, finance & investment plan, Marketing and Promotional Strategy, Draft Tourism Master Plan and Final Tourism Master Plan. The Tourism Master Plan sets a goal of attracting 10 million tourists by 2040, with an annual revenue target of $8 billion.  The plan will also concentrate on the ten Development Project Proposals (DPPs), one of which will be a Design and Plan for an Iconic Built Attraction in the capital city or any suitable location. On the occasion, he said a workshop was organized recently to promote interaction with wider industry stakeholders and attended by  Minister for Planning, M.A. Mannan, and State Minister of the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism, Md. Mahbub Ali, detailed deliberations were held on how to fine tune the methodology of the plan so as to make it inclusive, participatory and responsible to the needs of the wider tourism industry in the country.

The Deputy Team Leader N.I. Nazeem and Inbound tour operator Mr Taufeek Rehman, who are national experts of the team, are of the opinion that long term Vision and Goals of the Master Plan must be clearly, carefully and judiciously laid out.  “The objective of the plan is to develop new products like rural and community-based tourism, pro poor tourism and provide a much needed framework within which synergistic and sound interventions can be made within a futuristic planning perspective”, said Project Coordinator Sakshi Godara. Sakshi Godara, the consultant of the project, said sanitation, safety and security and promotion of tourism zones are important in the sector.

Benjamin Carey, a Scottish citizen and team leader of the project, gave an overview of the tourism sector of Bangladesh at the workshop.