Tourism as a Development Strategy: Focusing on Sea Tourism of Bangladesh


Professor Syed Ahsanul Alam Professor & Chairman Department of Marketing Studies & International Marketing, Chittagong University.

Ummay Salma Khanam M. Phil Fellow Department of Marketing Studies & International Marketing, Chittagong University.

(Professor Syed Ahsanul Alam)

(Ummay Salma Khanam)


Tourism as a Development Strategy: Focusing on Sea Tourism of Bangladesh Professor Syed Ahsanul Alam* Ummay Salma Khanam**


Introduction to tourism does not require any special consideration, Bangladesh, as it is in South Asian region, has utmost facilities for the fastest development of tourism which may lead to create huge both direct and indirect employment opportunities for the nation. But these opportunities cannot be achieved without going through challenges because development of tourism in Bangladesh is heavily dependent on strategic decisions taken and implemented by stakeholders. Global tourism industry has been one of the largest industries providing about five hundred million consumers every year and creating employment for over hundred million people worldwide. So far as the world and regional experiences are concerned, Bangladesh has all natural advantages to grow as one of the leading nations in tourism very soon if we learn from the others, take appropriate strategic measures, understand indigenous tourism mix, look into comprehensive tourism potentials and develop strong and productive partnerships with local and international investors.

Key words: Tourism, Development strategy, Sea Tourism, Branding, Communication.

*Professor & Chairman, Department of Marketing Studies & International Marketing, Chittagong University. **M. Phil Fellow, Department of Marketing Studies & International Marketing, Chittagong University. 2

1. Introduction Tourism sector is one of the most growing sectors in the global economy. Tourism refers to traveling to relatively undisturbed or uncontaminated natural areas highlighting on learning, appreciating and enjoying the scenery and its wild nature, as well as other existing cultural and historical aspects. These include places of archeological and historical importance, religious sites, sanctuaries, parks, hill resorts and clubs and sea beaches, etc. The World Tourism Organization defines tourists as people who "travel to and stay in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes not related to the exercise of an activity remunerated from within the place visited". Tourism is a key to the national revenue for many countries as it can bring them huge financial benefits in terms of employment generation, business development, cultural exchange and foreign exchange. In this connection, the tourism sector might play an essential role as a driving force of economic development. The impact this industry can have in different stages of economic development depends on the specific characteristics of each country (Taleghani, 2010). Given the complexity of tourism consumption, its economic impact is felt widely in other production sectors, contributing in each case towards achieving the aims of accelerated development (Davidson, 2004).

2. Literature Review Tourism is one of the fastest growing service industries in the world contributing a major part of total GDP. But existing information available in the literature is found to be limited in explaining its contribution or total economic impact to the economy of Bangladesh. Specially, existing literature was not pertinent to get across the area of study regarding Sea Tourism in Bangladesh. Many developing countries have prepared plans particularly at the central level to guide tourism development as they have recognized this sector as an important source of foreign currency earning and development (Deen & Timothy 2001, Cited in Das & Chakraborty, 2012). Tourism 3

industry’s situation and potentiality is not agreeably recognized since existing data is insufficient to make clear its actual position and contribution.

3. Objective The impact of Sea Tourism on the economy varies depending on the tourism strategy undertaken. To focus on the tourism strategy as a development strategy the following objectives are taken for this study: • • To focus on the major Sea Tourist destinations of Bangladesh. Provide some recommendation and strategies for developing tourism as a development strategy.

4. Methodology This study is based on secondary data analysis, towards getting the tourism strategy as a development strategy. Data collected from different publications, journals, articles and different related websites. All the data obtained from secondary sources were analyzed and eventually a conclusion is drawn resulting in incorporating our ideas and experiences.

5. Limitation Having large numbers of tourists’ attractions Bangladesh holds acute prospects to be a foremost host of tourist destinations. The entire status of tourism products can be discussed under different categories of products and this study emphasis on only Sea Tourism. Other different products of the industry are not focused here. Considering certain limitations, the findings of the study can be generalized to take up strategic decisions for the development of Sea Tourism.


6. Overview of the Tourism Industry

Tourism is a truly global economic activity taking place across the world, from leading capital cities and smaller towns and villages in rural and coastal areas, to some of the remotest points on the planet. It is one of the world’s largest industries, or economic sectors, contributing trillions of dollars annually to the global economy, creating jobs and wealth, generating exports, boosting taxes and stimulating capital investment (WTTC, 2012). Nearly 260 million jobs worldwide are supported by Travel & Tourism either directly in the industry or in related sectors. Over the past two decades, substantial progress has been made in raising awareness of the importance of Travel & Tourism.

6.1 Global and South Asian Statement The idea of travel and tourism is one of the oldest ideas of the world. It is appeared to be as ancient as history itself. In order to clearly figure out the historical growth of tourism one has to go through the historical development of this industry because, so far as our present experiences of tourism are concerned, tourism has been an integral part of our environment and economy. Most historians of tourism have tended to focus on Europe, from the Greeks and Romans, to the railway and Thomas Cook in the UK (GSA, 2009). At the same time, the tourism has happened to exist in other regions of the world for decades. The top 10 markets in 2006 were Singapore (9,656,251 arrivals), Thailand (1,891,921 arrivals), Indonesia (1,217,024 arrivals), Brunei (784,446 arrivals), China (439,294 arrivals), Japan (354,213 arrivals), India (279,046 arrivals), Australia (277,125 arrivals), United Kingdom (252,035 arrivals) and the Philippines (211,123 arrivals) (Financial Express, 2007).The real growth (%) (Direct contribution to GDP from Travel & Tourism) from 2010 to 2011 increases to 4.4 from 3.2. 5

6.2 Introduction to Bangladesh Tourism

Tourism has already been a promising sector in some developing countries for its growth affecting not only the activities directly linked to tourism but also other associated sectors. Bangladesh is one of the naturally beautifully-enriched countries in South Asia with its unique cultures. It does provide substantial unique production of its own for tourist, not only for domestic travelers but for overseas tourists as well. Bangladesh is not only a country of natural beauties but also that of rich history and culture; rivers, lakes, tropical rain forest evergreen hills, flowers, birds, lush green paddy fields, animals are only a few to mention. The largest mangrove forest of the world- Sundarban honors our country, its people and culture becoming an everlasting source of inspiration and income for generations to come. In addition, Cox’s Bazaar, the largest beach of the world is in Bangladesh; seeing and exploring Cox’s Bazaar doesn’t necessarily wait for any seasons resulting in entertaining thousands of visitors throughout the year. Practicing cultures, diverse languages, heritage and traditions of their own, the tribal people enrich the collective culture of Bangladesh. It is an issue of immense opportunity to become the future leader of tourism by making use of these enormous possessions.


Bangladesh: Key Facts at a Glance


GDP: DIRECT CONTRIBUTION The direct contribution of Travel & Tourism to GDP was BDT182.5bn (2.2% of total GDP) in 2011, and is forecast to rise by 7.3% in 2012, and to rise by 6.1% pa, from 2012-2022, to BDT353.7bn in 2022 (in constant 2011 prices).

EMPLOYMENT: TOTAL CONTRIBUTION In 2011, the total contribution of Travel & Tourism to employment, including jobs indirectly supported by the industry, was 4.1% of total employment (2,880,500 jobs). This is expected to rise by 3.9% in 2012 to 2,991,500 jobs and rise by 3.2% pa to 4,082,000 jobs in 2022 (4.5% of total) VISITOR EXPORTS Visitor exports generated BDT6.9bn (.5% of total exports) in 2011. This is forecast to grow by 7.3% in 2012, and grow by 4.8% pa, from 2012-2022, to BDT11.7bn in 2022 (.5% of total).

INVESTMENT Travel & Tourism investment in 2011 was BDT34.3bn, or 1.7% of total investment. It should rise by 6.5% in 2012, and rise by 6.7% pa over the next ten years to BDT69.8bn in 2022 (1.7% of total).


6.3Sea Tourism in Bangladesh 6.3.1 Major Destinations

Bangladesh has the largest unbroken sea beach, thousand of rivers and rivulets, numerous lakes and cannels which are the eternal source for recreations like seed boat, paddle boat, normal boat, swimming, squash etc to the tourist such as angling, boating, swimming, fishing etc.

Cox’s Bazaar Cox’s Bazaar could be one of the tourist capitals of Bangladesh with a 120 km long sandy, clear and drivable beach. Other magnificent attraction of Cox’s Bazaar are Inani Beach (about 30 km from Cox’s Bazaar full of coral stones), the island of Maheskhali, which is famous for its Buddhist and Hindu temples and a dry fish industry, Teknaf on the southern-most point of Bangladesh, Ramu, Sonadia, Himchhari, St. Martin Island (only Coral Island) etc. Around Cox’s Bazaar several eye-catching destinations like Himchori , Inani are sited. Himchori is renowned for waterfall, during the rainy season it’s truly marvelous and full waterfall can be enjoyed. In the hills on the coast is built the shrine of Adinath, dedicated to Siva. By its side on the same hill is Buddhist Pagoda. Mangrove forests, hilly areas, salt field etc are found here. This island is also famous for Buddhist Temple and Pagoda. St. Martins Island St. Martins Island is the most beautiful Coral Island where one can find live corals. The beautiful

Coral reef and long Coral beach and lots of coconut trees make the island eye-catching. The original name of this Island Narikel Jinjira is derived from the local name of the coconut, Narikel. Cheera-dwip, about two and a half hours walk from St. Martins Island, part of St. Martins Island but divided during tides.

Jaflong One of the dazzling tourist places in Sylhet division is Jaflong, a scenic spot nearby amidst tea gardens and beauty of rolling stones from hills. It is situated besides the river Mari in the lap of Hill Khashia. The Mari River is coming from the great Himalayas of India bringing million tons of stone boulders with its tide. Jaflong is totally a hilly area of real natural beauty where hills are greenish with the forests. The Sundarban World’s largest mangrove forest and could be the goldmine for ecotourism in Bangladesh is Sundarban. The Sundarbans has been enlisted among the finalist in the new 7 wonders of nature. The Sundarban forest lies in the vast delta on the Bay of Bengal formed by the super confluence of the Padma, Brahmaputra and Meghna rivers across Saiyan southern Bangladesh. The forest covers 10,000 of which 6000 sq. km. are in Bangladesh. The Sundarbans is estimated to be about 4,110 of which of which 1700sq. km. is occupied by water bodies in the forms of rivers, canals, creeks of width varying from a few meters to several kilometers. The UNESCO has declared Sundarbans as a world-heritage site in 1997 with a view to preserving and protecting bio-diversity of the rare ecotourism. The attraction of the Sundarbans are the large and small rivers, forest ecology, wild life, beaches, culture, plants, mammals (Royal Bengal Tiger, spotted Deer), Otter squirrel, Monkeys, Barking deer, wild boar, Dolphin, reptiles, fish, birds etc. Hiron points, Katka, kochikhali, Dubla Island, Mandarbari, and Putency Island etc are other important attractions of the Sundarbans. It is estimated that there are now 500 Royal Bengal tigers, one of the largest single populations of tigers in one area and about 30,000 spotted deer in the area. Over 120 species of fish and over 260 species of birds have been recorded in the Sundarbans.


The main tourist spots in Sundarban are Karamjol, Katka, Kochikhali, Hiron point and Mandarbaria. Hiron Point (Nilkamal) for tiger, deer, monkey, crocodiles, birds and natural beauty. Katka for deer, tiger, crocodiles, varieties of birds and monkey, morning and evening symphony of wild fowls. Vast expanse of grassy meadows running from Katka to Kachikhali (Tiger Point) provides opportunities for wild tracking. Patenga Sea Beach Patenga beach is about 22 km. from Chittagong. Patenga sea beach is one of the major attractions in Chittagong for the tourists. Besides the sea beach, one can enjoy boating and river cruise in the River Karnaphuli. For example, very recently, a Boat Club has been in full operation that can facilitate different services complying with and respecting the mode of the tourists by the Potenga Sea Beach. Parki Beach Parki beach might be the next tourist attraction in Bangladesh, which is situated in Anwara thana under southern Chittagong region. Tourists enjoy the views of big ships anchored at the outer dock, fishermen catching fish in sea, sunset, various colored crabs at the beach and quiet environment. Kuakata Kuakata beach, where both sun rise and sunset is seen, is another tourist landmark of the country. Kuakata, locally known as Sagar Kannya (Daughter of the Sea) is a rare scenic beauty spot on the southernmost tip of Bangladesh. At Kuakata excellent combination of the picturesque natural beauty, sandy beach, blue sky, huge expanse of water of the Bay and evergreen forest in really eye-catching. The long and wide beach at Kuakata has a typical natural setting. The main tourist


season is in winter but all over the year tourists visit this place. Kuakata is truly a virgin beach-a sanctuary for migratory winter birds, a series of coconut trees, sandy beach of blue Bay, a feast for the eye.


Development strategy for Sea Tourism 7.1 Establishing Priority Zones

Overall development of tourism in a country is a huge task that should be a coordinated effort while stakeholders, both public and private one, must reach a consensus in designing and creating priority zones for tourism in Bangladesh. Selecting priority zones is something that needs special focus and consideration from different sectors like Ministry of Civil Aviation & Tourism in collaboration with Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Planning, Ministry of Forest and Environment, Bangladesh Bank, Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation, different Chambers of Commerce & Industries, and interested corporate houses.

To present an international standard Sea Tourism, we not only have to take soft policies but to take hard policies as well. We ought to realize and believe that Sea Tourism for international visitors needs to understand the nature of Sea Tourism facilities they are interested in. 7.2 Marketing Mix Strategy

For any commercial venture appropriate marketing mix can play a dominating role along with other relevant mechanisms. When it comes to marketing mix for Sea Tourism, the concept of marketing mix has to be understood in a way that the industry can become objectively profit oriented by using all its competitive advantages. The 7P’s, that is, Product, Price, Place, Promotion, People, Process and Physical Evidence, of the marketing mix needs to pragmatically be considered to create effective market oriented Sea Tourism products. 11

There are sea, hill, historical and cultural tourism products in Bangladesh. That is why the nature of marketing strategy or product strategy should comply with the regions and its vicinity. For example, product design for Cox’sBazar is sharply contrasting with the product design for hill tracts or urban cities. Having considered different marketing aspects of tourism products on the scale of 7 P’s specialized-experienced strategists should be consulted to design and promote best tourism products within the best compromise between resources and expectations.

Tourism as an invisible sector especially international tourism, as one of the most vibrant indistinguishable export sectors, get significant amount of foreign exchange to the balance of payment and makes very important contribution to the economic growth of a country (Hossain 2006). Tourism is regarded as an invisible export because it has the potential to bring foreign exchange to a country, through the provision of services to overseas visitors (Davidson 1994).


Branding Bangladesh as a Sea Tourism Destination

In order to promote any country as tourist destination the collective efforts from the different stakeholders are mandatory because the bigger success of the promotion abroad depends on creating and presenting a very positive image of the country where the role of branding plays a definitive performance. So far as our tourism experiences are concerned our biggest fallout in tourism is lack of brand image. Briton (1979) in his article “the image of the third world in tourism marketing” pointed out the inability of the tourism industry to represent destinations as real places and noted that the third world destinations are portrayed as paradise, unspoiled, sensuous, mystical and/or exotic and these types of representation affect tourists’ expectations and behavior. As a result, branding Tourism in Bangladesh is a part of Branding Bangladesh as a nation, what means that Bangladesh should be branded first as a nation so that the products of the Bangladesh can be placed in the other parts of the world. Baker (2007) argues that creating a 12

brand that is going to stand out from competitors, resonate with customer needs, and gain the support of local stakeholders requires patience, vision, collaboration, and strategic thinking. This is the high time for us to have a collective branding approach for Bangladeshi products abroad in general and for tourism in Bangladesh in particular.


Communications Strategy

Communication means a total sum of different facilities provided by roads and transports, power and energy, telecom and ICT based communication and so on. When the question of branding Bangladesh comes to the table of discussion, our strategists both private and public ones should have a comparative picture of our communications with our neighboring countries.

Our roads and transport system cannot meet the global standard. Most of the roads of inter-district communications have been suffering from severe damage and maltreatment, for example, one passenger has to take about 7- 9 hours from Dhaka to Chittagong. About 95% of the foreign airlines don’t cover any destinations of the country rather than Dhaka. The domestic flights between Dhaka and other destinations are not hassle free.

World Wide Web creates a new avenue for a number of new players into the tourism marketplace. Internet as a main distribution mechanism for direct contact is the noteworthy creation. A well-organized, informative, easily accessible attractive website needs to be designed to pull the tourists. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the prime criteria here to make the browser hit the particular website. Better communication will increase the number of domestic tourists as well as overseas tourists.



Accommodation Strategy

Developing unique accommodation facilities is an integral part of total tourism approach. What has to be stated here is that accommodation facility for tourism industry must be designed in different tiers. In addition, establishment of food shops and restaurants should also focus on income level of the different tourists. Here we want to state that local administration and business body should come forward to control this malpractice. In order to attract international tourists, some accommodation facilities should have all kind of services that are make available by our competitors.


Role of Financial Institutions

Tourism has yet to be recognized as an industry in our country. To establish or to recognize a concern as industry different organs of the society, business and government should frame a uniform code of policies where the role of financial institutions is in the front line. Short, medium and long-term project financing need to be made available to boost need-based portfolio investment in tourism sector. So, financial institutions, different business organizations and potential investors of this sector might develop a joint working policy to turn tourism into a fullfledged industry where concerned backward and forward linkage industries are equally treated as inevitable part of tourism advancement in Bangladesh. 7.7 Safety and Security Strategy

Many of our tourist places happen to be quite vulnerable to security concerns. Most people believe that effective vigilance by the security agencies play vital role in maintaining security. In some cases, it is true that law enforcing authority can ensure safety and security. On the other 14

hand, if we look into causes of the insecurity in one place, surprisingly it is found that most miscreants and trouble makers are from the locality. Consequently, moral, ethical and cultural upliftment of the local people, to a large extent, is the fundamental and sentinel for ensuring security of tourists. In the same vein, some quarters think that formation and the deployment of especial security force, which may realistically be called “Tourist Police”, can provide substantial security benefit along with regular security agencies. For example, an specialized police (Beach Police) are already in operation in Cox’s Bazaar but what has to be in the front line is that they need to be equipped so as to withstand against any disturbance from any quarter on beaches.

8. Conclusion

Tourism as an industry can have all grounds to contribute to the national exchequer along with other industries. Perhaps, it sounds quite new when it comes up as industry in our country but tourism is one of the oldest industries across the world. As we look into the growth of tourism in the region, we do come to see bewildering facts that many countries of this region those developed quite a lot in industry did not have substantial natural advantages to turn tourism into industry; however, they for example, Nepal, Thailand, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Singapore took effective and rational strategies to establish tourism as industry. At the same time, many countries of this region have earned considerable trust and financial benefit out of their tourism. Bangladesh as a country having enormous natural facilities and being at cross section of the land can be an illustrious destination of tourism. To make Bangladesh so, effective tourism strategies and contemporary product mix have no alternative. Therefore, categorization and segmentation of tourism product remain a challenging issue for our concerned strategies. As we understand, Bangladesh has dedicated room to develop tourism in the areas of hill, sea, history and culture.



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10. World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), Retrieved March 12, 2012 from www.


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