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Table of contents 5. The upcoming tourist industry ........................

31
5.1. Transportation .............................................................................31
1. Introduction ..................................................... 3
2. Bangladesh – at a glance ................................... 4 5.2. Accommodation, restaurants and night life ..............................33

2.1. Geography...................................................................................... 4 5.3. Tour operators .............................................................................35

2.2. Climate ........................................................................................... 5 5.4. How is Bangladesh sold ...............................................................36

2.3. History............................................................................................ 6 5.5. The future Bangladeshi tourist supply.......................................38

2.4. Population ...................................................................................... 7 5.6. The potential of the tourism industry ........................................39

2.5. National economy .......................................................................... 9 6. Executive summary ......................................... 44


2.6. Travel advice for Bangladesh..................................................... 11 7. Reference ........................................................ 47
8. Appendix ......................................................... 51
3. Tourist destinations........................................ 14
8.1. Tourist arrivals (in thousands) ...................................................51
3.1. The four main tourist divisions.................................................. 14
8.2. Tourism revenue (in millions US$).............................................51
3.2. The two secondary tourist divisions .......................................... 17
8.3. Players in the local tourism business..........................................51
3.3. Status for tourist attractions ...................................................... 18
8.4. Prices in Bangladesh....................................................................53
3.4. Potential ....................................................................................... 21
8.5. SWOT analysis of the Bangladeshi tourism sector...................56
4. Target groups.................................................. 22
4.1. Inbound tourists .......................................................................... 22 8.5.1. Strengths________________________________________________ 56

4.2. The local middle and high class ................................................. 24 8.5.2. Weaknesses______________________________________________ 58

8.5.3. Opportunities ____________________________________________ 60


4.3. The expatriate community ......................................................... 26
8.5.4. Threats _________________________________________________ 61
4.4. Future tourist demand................................................................ 28
8.6. Contact information ....................................................................62
4.5. Potential ....................................................................................... 29

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Reality however is not as devastating as indicated by the
1. Introduction image of the country since the national economy is
improving, population growth has slowed down, poverty
The country of Bangladesh is most known internationally
seems to be abating, and a nationwide nature warning
through newspaper headlines for its poor population,
system functions effectively. Further more Bangladesh is
corruption and several natural disasters. These problems
nowadays standing at a political crossroad as a temporary
are real and their side effects have a fundamental impact
government since October 2006 has introduced reforms to
on the society.
eliminate corruption and public inefficiency.

This paper is written by Majbritt Thomsen, Danish MA in


Tourism living in Bangladesh since October 2007, for the
Danish Embassy in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The photo
material illustrating life in Bangladesh is provided by
Emile Mahabub, Majbritt Thomsen and Casper
Magnussen.
The subject matter for this paper provides an introduction
to the Bangladeshi tourist sector with a primary focus on
its general status and development potential. It is
specifically hoped that this paper will increase the interest
of the Danish tourism business in Bangladesh as well as
draw the attention to the development possibilities
through the DANIDA B2B programme.

3
2. Bangladesh – at a glance
The main information sources in this chapter are Lonely
Planet Bangladesh (2004), Banglapedia (2006) and
Encyclopedia of the Nations (2008).

2.1. Geography
Bangladesh is located in the tropics in South Asia and has
a total area of 147,570 sq. km, which is about three times
the size of Denmark. It shares its borders with India on
the west and north and Myanmar (Burma) on the east. On
the south, 66,400 kilometres of coastline merge into the
Bay of Bengal. Bangladesh is a part of the Bengal basin
which is one of the most seismically active zones of the
world. However, no major earthquake has occurred in
Bangladesh since 1950.1
Topographically, the country is almost entirely a fertile
alluvial plain formed by the two main rivers, the Ganges
and the Brahmaputra and their hundreds of tributaries.

1 The Sustainable Development Networking Programme (SDNP)


(2005a)

4
Hills rise above the plain only in the Chittagong Hill Tracts May. Days average 25 °C in January, 35 °C in April and
in the far southeast and the Sylhet division in the linger around the 30°C mark for most of the year.
northeast. Annual rainfall varies from 1000 mm in the west to 5000
The world’s largest littoral mangrove belt, The mm in the north. 75 % of the annual rainfall occurs
Sundarbans, covers an area of nearly 3600 sq km in the between June and September, in this period normally
south western part of Bangladesh and another 2400 sq humidity is between 90 % and 95 %.
km in east India. About 10 % of Bangladesh is still
forested. Half of the forest is in the Chittagong Hill Tracts,
a quarter in the Sundarbans, and the rest scattered in
small pockets throughout the country.
The country is divided in the following six divisions:
Rajshahi, Sylhet, Chittagong, Khulna, Dhaka and Barisal
Division, all named after their respective capitals. The
capital city, Dhaka, with over 10 million citizens (2001) is
located in the central part of the country.

2.2. Climate
Bangladesh has a subtropical and tropical climate with
three main seasons: the 'wet' season from late May to early
October; the 'cold' season from mid-October to the end of Eighty percent of Bangladesh is less than 1.5 metres

February; and the 'hot' season from mid-March to mid- above sea level and every year during the monsoon season
the rivers flood half the country to a depth of 30 cm.

5
The floods, which last for several months, have the
environmental benefit of bringing fertile silt, but cause
great disruption.
The best season for travelling in Bangladesh is between
October and February. Early March can still be pleasant,
but by April the humidity increases and lethal hailstorms
aren’t uncommon. On average, the country gets hit by one
major cyclone every three years. The worst times for
cyclones are May to June and October to November.

2.3. History
Through different invasions, the area of Bangladesh was
influenced by Buddhism, Hinduism and Muslim until the
17th century. The Portuguese, Dutch, British and French
then tussled for decades for influence over the
subcontinent; the British East India Company prevailed.
At the end of the European colonialism the British divided
their Indian colony on religious grounds. India was
dominated by the Hindu population, and Muslims
dominated East and West Pakistan (now Bangladesh and
Pakistan).

6
The two Muslim regions had little in common as they were and other crimes. The political situation is referred to as a
separated by more than 1500 km of Indian Territory and ‘window of opportunity’ and the government has
spoke two different languages. In 1971 Bangladesh, announced elections in late 2008.
literally ’land of the Bangla speakers’, emerged as an
independent and sovereign country following a destructive
2.4. Population
and violent nine-month liberation war.
Numerous military coups followed but in the 1990s the The Bangladeshi population is relatively homogeneous.
establishment of a civil government brought in political The national language, Bangla, is spoken by over 98 % of
stabilization as well as a comprehensive corruption in the the population, while other ethnic groups, including
private, public and political sector. various tribal groups, make up the remaining 2 percent.
Bangladesh has developed into a democratic Muslim state.
Politically and economically the country is orientated to
the western society while as the same time attention is
given to the religious relationship to other Muslim
countries, especially in the Middle East. Furthermore a
linguistic, cultural and historical relationship exists
between the 230 million Bangla speakers in the world,
living primary in Bangladesh and India.2
Since January 2007 Bangladesh has been in a state of
emergency, as the legitimate temporary government has
suspended certain fundamental rights to fight corruption

2 Banglapedia (2006)

7
Religion also plays an important role in the society, Average birth rate is around three, compared to seven in
Muslims make up about 83%, and Hindus 16 %, Buddhist the 1970s, and life expectancy at birth is 61 years. Almost
and Christian are religious minorities. two-thirds of the population is illiterate. English is, except
Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated countries in Dhaka, little spoken and understood in the towns and
in the world with its population of over 140 million. It is a hardly at all up-country.
relatively young population, as nearly 60 percent are The country is also one of the poorest in the world. GNI pr.
under the age of 25 and only 3 percent 65 or older. capita in 2006 was only 480 USD3 and a huge inequality
gulf exists in the society. The poorest 40 percent of the
population are living below the poverty line controlling just
20.7 percent of the wealth. Meanwhile the wealthiest 20
percent of the population control 42.8 percent of the
wealth.4 A small growing middle class accounts for 9
percent of the population, or 13 million people. In Pakistan
and India the middle class are estimated to a total of 18
percent and 30 percent, respectively.5
Urban population is growing rapidly especially in Dhaka,
Chittagong, Khulna, and Rajshahi. Bangladesh was
almost completely a rural-agrarian country until 1951
with only 4 percent living in urban areas. By 2001 the

3 DANIDA (2008)

4 Encyclopedia of the Nations (2007c)


5 International Herald Time (2006)

8
level of urbanization was 23 % and by 2025 this level is
estimated to reach 40%6.

2.5. National economy


For several years the Bangladeshi GNP has shown a 5-6
pct. growth, but the economy, including the financial
sector, is still facing important challenges. The country is
heavily dependent on imported technologies; further more
proper planning is required for its effective transfer
through acquisition, assimilation and adoption.7
The agriculture and labour-intensive manufacturing are
the two major pillars of the national economy. Major
exports are garments, jute and jute goods, tea, leather and
leather products, frozen fish, and seafood.
The structure of the economy however has changed An important reason for this change was a political and

gradually. Between 1970 and 1999 the agricultural social stability introduced in the 1990s which increased

contribution to the GNP declined from 55 to 31.6 percent, the overseas competitiveness of the local industries as well

while the production of manufactured goods increased as attracted foreign aid, political representation and

from 9 to 19.3 percent.8 foreign investments. Permanently present in the country


are 40 Foreign Representations and Embassies9, 93
International Organizations/NGO, and 33 Business
6 Sustainable Development Networking Programme (SDNP) (2005b)
7 Discovery Bangladesh (2008)
8 Encyclopedia of the Nations (2007b) 9 See captor 4.3.

9
Associations/Consultants Multinationals10. Latest sources Tourism has since the 1990s been a small but rapidly
(2003-2004) show that Bangladesh had a total of 127 growing sector of the economy.12 In 2007 the employment
Foreign Investments Registrations, shared equally between in the Bangladeshi Travel & Tourism Industry was
Developed and Developing Economies. Foreign aid was the estimated at 752.000 jobs or 1.2% of total employment.
equivalent of 6.7 US$ pr. capita in 2004.11 The industry was expected to contribute 1.5% to Gross
Domestic Product (GDP) in 2007 or US$ 998.2 million13.
Bangladesh is a pioneer in the world of Microcredit with
one of the largest number of microfinance institutions and
highest penetration rates in the world. Microcredit pioneer
and founder of Grameen Bank, Bengali Muhammad
Yunus, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006. His innovative
banking program has for over 30 years provided poor
people with small loans they use to launch businesses and
lift their families out of poverty.

10 DAWC ‘Yellow Pages’ (2005) 12 Encyclopedia of the Nations (2007a)


11 Workpremit.com (2007) 13 World Travel & Tourism Council (2007a)

10
2.6. Travel advice for Bangladesh Local laws reflect the fact that Bangladesh is a
predominantly Muslim country. Furthermore centuries of
Citizens of all countries need visa to enter Bangladesh.
isolation, even when foreign powers ruled, have produced
General advice is to obtain the visa in the home country,
people, customers and values that are typical Bengali in
although it can also be attained on arrival and in a few
nature. Bangladeshis are generally hospitable and
embassies and consulates in neighboring countries.14
exceedingly helpful. Anything unusual is a crowd magnet,
be it a road accident, a street demonstration or a foreigner.
Travellers should respect local traditions, customs, laws
and religions at all times and be aware of their actions to
ensure that they do not offend other cultures or religious
beliefs. Likewise foreigners are advised to travel
responsibly, being sensitive to their impact on the local
environment and society.

Safety and security issues for travellers according to


several embassies15 are; Terrorism threats and attacks
cannot be ruled out; Demonstrations are often held at
short notice and have the potential to become violent; and
the current political state of emergency.

15 Embassy Web-pages of England, Sweden, America, Norway and


14 Wikitravel.com (2008b) Denmark has been consulted in February 2006.

11
Documented crime against expats and tourists include Travellers in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (Chittagong
armed robbery, pick pocketing, abduction for ransom and Division) are required to register with local authorities,
officials’ abuse of authority. Travel between towns after stay in the main towns and travel on the main roads. The
dark, by train, bus or ferry, is generally risky because of safety situation in the Chittagong Hill Tracts is pointed out
banditry. Further more road network condition and safety by embassies as constantly changing due to violent
is poor; and ferries are often dangerously overcrowded. disputes between rival tribal groups, settlers and the
military.

Historically, crime rates in Bangladesh have traditionally


been low compared to other areas of the world. The crime
situation in Dhaka and Chittagong is however worsening
and there are increasing reports of crimes involving
weapons. Foreigners have not been especially targeted.16
One recent security advice for foreigners in Dhaka
estimates that “Dhaka is a safe place, when you know how
to play by its rules”.17

16 A Global World Products (2008)


17 JoyBangla.info (2008c)

12
As to the safety situation in the Chittagong Hill Tracts a
peace accord was signed in 1997, after two decades of
local resistance and military repression.18 All problems are
not solved but both local and foreigners are now travelling
to several destinations in the area.

General travelling advice for Bangladesh is therefore to be


well informed of world events and local developments as
well as avoid potential dangerous situations like travelling
alone (especially as single females)19, at night and by
public transportation.

18 A Global World Products (2008)


19 JoyBangla.info (2008a)

13
archaeological site, and Jaggadala Vihara, the
3. Tourist destinations archaeological remains of a Buddhist monastery.

In terms of existing tourist products, both inbound and


home market, Rajshahi, Sylhet, Chittagong and Khulna
Division are the main tourist divisions.20

3.1. The four main tourist divisions


The Rajshahi Division is overwhelmingly agricultural, with
no large cities. In the northern part of this division the
Himalayan Mountains can be seen on clear days.
The region offers remote peaceful towns and a variety of
historical monuments, including mosques, Hindu temples
and British-era buildings. Best known, and nominated a
UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the ruins of the Buddhist
Vihara at Paharpur. According to UNESCO this
archaeological site is undoubtedly the most spectacular
pre-Islamic monumental complex in the south of the
The Sylhet Division is covered with terraced tea estates,
Himalayan region. Three other historical sites are on the
patches of tropical rainforest, pineapple plantations and
UNESCO Tentative list: Mahasthangarh, the oldest known
orange groves. This division has the best climate in the
city in Bangladesh, Halud Vihara, a Buddhist
country – temperate and cool air in the winter and
moderately warm in the summer. Annual rainfall is 5000
20 Primary source Lonely Planet (2004), Banglapedia (2006),
Encyclopedia of the Nations (2007) and UNESCO (2008a-c)
mm, the highest in the country. Clear water runs in

14
the rivers and popular tourists attractions are the Martin’s Island. To the local travel market these places
waterfall, Madhab Kunda, and Jaflong river delta, where have become popular and loathed sea, sand and sun
pebbles to the national concrete industry are collected. holiday destinations. Beach life, Bangladeshi style,
Highlighted tourist activities are cycling, bird watching includes women bathing in a two-piece suit.
and visiting tribal villages in the area. Far East the division is hilly; this part is referred to as the
Chittagong Hills. Over ten different tribe populations live
in this area, each tribe with distinctive rites, rituals,
dialects and dress.

Chittagong Division offers a natural and ethnic diversity.


Situated in this part of Bangladesh it is one of the world's
longest natural sandy sea beaches (120 km) including
mud flats, Cox’s Bazar, and the only coral island, Saint

15
The Mainimati Ruins represents a major religious and
political centre without parallel in the subcontinent as it
appears to have been the religious centre from which
Buddhism was spread to South East Asia. This cultural
site is on the UNESCO Tentative List. The 900 hectare
Dulahazara Safari Park is the first of its kind in
Bangladesh; the park is home for 4,000 animals of 165
species. Chittagong city is the second largest city in
Bangladesh with around 4 million citizens and the
country’s busiest port.

The Khulna Division is made up of marshland, dense


jungle and numerous rivers. The Sundarbarns is a The Historical Mosque City of Bagerhat is also nominated
preserve cluster of islands with thousands of winding a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Except for Dhaka, this
streams, creeks and rivers and the habitat for the famous town has more historic monuments in its surrounding
Royal Bengal Tiger. The site is the only UNESCO heritage area than any other town in Bangladesh. It was not until
nature site in Bangladesh and one of the country’s major the arrival of the British that this division started to
tourist attractions. develop, but today the city of Khulna it is the third-largest
urban centre in the country.

16
3.2. The two secondary tourist divisions
Barisal Division is a wide and flat region fringed by rivers
and the sea, which offers a quiet green environment with
little industrial development and few historical
monuments. Barisal, the capital of the division, is a
pleasant port city with several ponds and old buildings
from the Raj era. Best tourist spot is the beach of
Kuakata, with a wide, sandy beach boasting coconut
groves, a Buddhist temple and tribal communities.

Dhaka Division is the most densely populated area of the


country with some 25,244 villages. Most of the division is
closely settled farmland and only in the far north
woodland can be found. Some of the best cultural sites in
The Lalbagh Fort, Bangla-Mughal style architecture, is
the countryside are: Sonargaon, the ancient capital of Isa
nominated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Central Dhaka
Khan's kingdom in Bengal, Atia Mosque, a transitional
is a modern part of town with commercial districts and
phase mosque, and the Madhupur Forest Reserve.
many of the nation’s central museums, universities and
Dhaka, the bursting capital is dominant in terms of
offices. Beyond are the suburbs, including the upmarket
population concentration, economy, trade and commerce,
quarters of Banani, Gulshan and Baridhara, which have
education, and administration. The capital can be divided
the best restaurants, guesthouses and all of the
in to three areas. Old Dhaka is a maze of crowded bazaars,
embassies.
narrow streets and interesting buildings and Mosques.

17
3.3. Status for tourist attractions survival often depends on intact natural areas. Some of
the large wildlife animals in the country are tiger,
The result of the tumultuous history of Bangladesh, with
elephant, black bear, deer, monkey, crocodile, snake and
internal warfare, several invasions, rise and fall of
dolphin. Bangladesh is also the habit of more than 650
empires, and influence from foreign lands is a country
spices of birds, almost half of those found on the entire
with a widely cultural and religious mix, monuments to
subcontinent.
show and stories to tell. A sustainable commercial use of
these resources is often low, which affect the standard for
preservation, development and level of international
appeal.

There is a dismal lack of designated national parks,


reserves and conservation area in Bangladesh overall. The
country has two national parks21 and four forest reserve22,
these are in generally not strictly controlled and
disappearing fast.
With millions of people to feed, it’s maybe asking too much
to lock away good agricultural land. Nevertheless animal

21 Bhawal National Park (Dhaka Division) and Sundarbarns National


Park (Khulna Division)
22 Lowacherra Forest Reserve (Sylhet Division), Madhupur Forest
Reserve (Dhaka Division), Singra Forest Reserve (Rajshahi Division)
and Telepara Forest Reserve (Sylhet Division)

18
Global warming represents a huge challenge for
Bangladesh, as it is one of the 10 countries most
vulnerable to a rise in sea level. Present predictions23
indicate the sea will rise by 8 to 30 cm by 2030, and 30 –
110 cm by 2100. A 1m rise in the Bay of Bengal would
result in a lost of 12-18% of the country’s land.

UNESCO conclude in 200824 that three sites inscribed on


the World Heritage List and a tentative list now being
drawn up with the assistance of UNESCO demonstrate
that Bangladesh is concerned with safeguarding a heritage
damaged by increased salinity and climate change.
Likewise, with regard to cultural policies and intercultural
dialogue, UNESCO concludes that Bangladesh is
concerned to protect and promote traditional Bengali
culture while upgrading relations between cultural
diversity and biodiversity as a basis for sustainable
development.

23 Sustainable development Network Programme (SDNP) (2008)


24 UNESCO (2008b)

19
Bangladesh and UNESCO also cooperate in the field of materials to ensure the perpetuation of traditional
intangible heritage. In 2005 the Baul Songs were knowledge and preserve cultural diversity.25
proclaimed Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible
Heritage of Humanity and an action plan has been
implemented to foster their transmission. These songs are
believed to date back to at least the 15th century and form
an important genre of Bengali folk songs also in present
time. Baul Songs were an inspiration to, Bengali
Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941), the first Asian writer to
win the Nobel Prize in 1913.

Traditional Bengali handicraft is cheep and includes


pottery and terracotta sculpture, processed pieces of
jewellery of gold, silver and mother of pearls, textiles
weaving in silk and cotton and wood carved products. The
production of local handicraft is often part of social
sustainable development programs. Furthermore
Bangladesh plays a part in the SEAL of Excellence
initiative, a South-east Asian program established in 2000
to encourage craft-workers to use traditional skills and

25 UNESCO (2008c)

20
3.4. Potential
The six Bangladeshi Division offers both individually and
combining a variety of natural and cultural destinations
suitable for tourist attractions. Regardless of the present
development, this paper argues that future tourist
development is possible in all districts of Bangladesh
depending highly on the existing potential and the tourist
product in mind.

Giving the complex challenges for the nation to preserve


its attractions for the future, sustainable tourism
development could have a major positive impact in
Bangladesh. The existing external image of Bangladesh
can further more inspire to several new tourist attractions
to increase understanding of the country’s history and
developing challenges. For example tourist could see, or
participate in, traditional craft-work or volunteer work at
nature and cultural projects.

21
average number of over 1000 tourists travelling to
4. Target groups Bangladesh pr. year. Here Pakistan was situated at the top
end with 9.179 tourists and Denmark at the bottom with
4.1. Inbound tourists 1.287 tourists. The countries in-between top to bottom
The latest available profound statistic information of the are: Japan, Korea, China, Canada, Nepal, Germany,
Bangladeshi characteristics of the inbound tourists covers Malaysia, Australia, Netherlands, Thailand, Singapore,
the time period 1996 to 2005.26 Average number of France, Sri Lanka, Italy, Sweden, Taiwan, Philippines,
inbound tourists in the period is 203.015 tourists. The Saudi Arabia, Others and Indonesia.
lowest number of inbound tourists was 165.887 tourists
recorded in 1996, the highest was 271.270 tourists in Within the above mentioned top 25 countries for the
2004. Bangladeshi tourist industry 17 countries show a positive
growth for the period 1995 to 2005. The five larges
In 2005 Bangladesh recorded 207.662 inbound tourists. percentage-wise growth is recoded in ‘Other’ (286%),
In terms of region the majority of the Bangladeshi tourists Indonesia (250%), Taiwan (157%), Thailand (94%) and
originated from South Asia (99.459), followed by Europe China (74%). The number of Danish tourists in
(48.961), East Asia and Pacific (35.976), US (18.673), Bangladesh shows a 5% growth.
Middle East (2.861) and Africa (1.730). The Bangladeshi inbound tourist activity is spread
During 1996 to 2005 the average numbers of tourists from through out the year. Numbers from 2005, shows that the
different countries, show a top three over 10.000 tourist’s country monthly receives between 13.166 (September) and
pr year from India (71.966), UK (31.529) and USA 20.213 (January) inbound tourists. Less than 17.000
(14.873). In this same period another 22 countries had an tourists are received in the months of February, April,
August, September and October. Between 17.000 and
26 Source Parjatan

22
19.000 tourists are received in May, June, November and influenced by several factors when choosing Bangladesh
December. High inbound travel months with over 19.000 as their destination. Some of the important pull-factors for
tourists are January, March and July. these countries are expected to be: The climatic travel
A significant difference in travel patterns throughout the season in Bangladesh; the historical links to India,
year exists between the top 25 inbound tourist countries Pakistan and England; a linguistic link with English
in Bangladesh. In Korea, Australia, Nepal, Taiwan, Italy, speaking countries; the geographical proximity to markets;
Philippines, Switzerland and Bhutan November is the and personal relationships to the expatriate community.
month with the highest numbers of tourists travel to
Bangladesh. In China, Japan, Pakistan, Canada,
Nederland, Sweden and Sri Lanka most Bangladeshi travel
activity is in January. Tourists in Germany, New Zealand
and Denmark primarily prefer travelling in March. Other
favourite travelling month to Bangladesh include May
(India), June (Singapore), July (UK and USA), August
(Indonesia) and September (Thailand and France).
Personal experience from the expatriate community show
that it is very rare to meet short-term foreign visitors in
Bangladesh, the ones that do visit for less than a month
are usually here as guests of expats.

The characteristics of the top 25 inbound tourist countries


in Bangladesh and the existing travel pattern indicates
that the inbound tourists from these countries are
23
4.2. The local middle and high class
No statistic information of the local tourism market has
been found, but several typical features of this market can
be pointed out.27

The nature of the country’s urban social structure has


changed due to the fact that cosmopolitan culture and
modern values has transmitted from the West. So while
the rural lifestyle have remained largely unchanged for
millennia, the growing Bangladeshi urban middle and
upper class live much like their Western counterparts. The
highest level of urbanization is in Dhaka, Chittagong and
Khulna which all has a large industrial and commercial Wealth and education largely determine urban social
pursuit along with vibrant service sectors. status for both men and women. Unlike many Middle
Eastern countries women in Bangladesh enjoy
considerable freedom and are generally involved in
education and labour.28 Nevertheless educating sons has
the highest priority, which the inequality in the level of
literacy between the sexes show (in 2003 est. male 53%
and female 31,8%).29 In richer families both sons and

27 According to Lonely Planet (2004) and Encyclopedia of the Nations 28 Banglapedia (2006)
(2007) 29 CIA - The world Factbook (2008)

24
daughters are under great pressure to get a good to which they go when possible.33 Compared to the hectic,
education at a national or international prestigious crowded and polluted city life the rural lifestyle stands out
university. as simple, quiet and safe. Since 2005, Bangladesh has
Since the 1980s Bangladesh has had a rapidly rising recognized a two-day weekend: Friday and Saturday and
emigration of people, both permanent and temporary. The 21 Government Holidays. Two popular travelling
emigration rate stood at the 0.77 migrant(s) per 1,000 opportunities, where millions of people leave the cities, are
citizens in 2000, or around 1 million a year.30 12 million the Muslim holidays, Eid ul-Fitr and Eid ul-Azha.
Bangladeshis possess a passport in 2008.31 Popular
emigration destinations for study and work are Western
Europe, the Americas and Australia. The major
destinations for Bangladeshi workers are Middle East
countries and Malaysia, where they are temporary
employed mainly in the low-skill and low-wage
construction and service sectors.32

The Bangladeshi family is a tightly knitted group, not only


for economic and protective reasons, but as a major centre
for both recreational and social activities. Even for city
dwellers, there is a strong connection to the ‘home village’,

30 CIA - The world Factbook (2008)


31 BangladeshNews.com.bd (2008)
32 Encyclopedia of the Nations (2007a) 33 Lonely Planet Bangladesh (2004)

25
4.3. The expatriate community persons) and England (around 2000 persons). The sum of
expatriated Europeans34 is just over 3000.
There are no official records of the expatriate community,
but foreign countries with embassies or consulates in
The further indication of the characterisation of the
Bangladesh can be interpreted as having a high level of
expatriate community is based on the results of an
national activity and interest in the country. The 40
exploratory tourism survey in Dhaka on the local target
countries with national authorities in Bangladesh are:
markets in November 2007. This paper author
Australia, Bhutan, Brunei, Canada, China, Denmark,
participated in making the survey as a part of a Feasibility
Egypt, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Iran,
Study on a Bangladeshi up scale eco resort.
Japan, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Korea (South and North),
51 random picked expats from 20 countries participated
Kuwait, Libyan, Malaysia, Morocco, Myanmar, Nederland,
in the survey. Age between 22 and 60 were represented by
Nepal, Norway, Pakistan, Palestine, Poland, Qatar, Russia,
the questioned, average age was 38 years. 12 questioned
Singapore, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand,
expats reside in Bangladesh alone while 35 live with a
Turkey, UK, United Arab Emirates, USA and Uzbekistan.
partner/spouse. 25 couples have 1-3 kids staying in
17 of the above mentioned authorities answered February-
Bangladesh at the age of 0 to 19, average age is 7.
March 2008 when questioned about the numbers of
In 48 expat households at least one person is working, in
citizens expatriated in Bangladesh. The answers generally
the remaining 3 household occupancy is study related. 16
show a lack of exact registration of citizens living in
expats are unemployed, all women living with working
Bangladesh, but these estimations nevertheless provide an
partner/spouse.
initial insight of this target group.
The total numbers of expats provided ends up to 13000 -
15000 expats, primarily from India (5000-6000 persons), 34 Numbers of expats from Denmark (137), Germany (150-200), Italy
(some 200), Nederland (200), Norway (71), Sweden (80 families),
America (2400-2500 persons), Pakistan (2000-2050
Switzerland (52), Turkey (113) and UK (some 2000).

26
Annual household income is in generally high; 20 % earn Personal experience on the expatriate community
US$60,000 - US$79,999, 16 % US$80,000 - US$99,999, indicates that expats live, with only few exceptions, in the
14 % US$40,000 - US$59,999 and a total of 38 % earn up quarters of Dhaka or Chittagong.
more than US$60,000. The living period in Bangladesh Everyday life and most weekends’ expats in Dhaka stay in
range between 6 month and 22 years, average is 3.3 years. the hectic and polluted capital. Socializing with
Expatriate households make several annual trips with an partner/spouse, children and friends is important, which
overnight stay, the average number of stays is 1,8 in is often taking place at local international clubs or
Bangladesh, 1,5 to home country, 2,8 to nearby countries restaurants.
and 1,1 to other countries. The expatriate travel pattern in
Bangladesh show large differences; 14 households have no
experience with such trips, while 8 households make more
than 6 annual trips. The five most important elements
when or if, selecting a place to visit/stay in Bangladesh
are: cleanliness, beautiful natural setting, comfortable
rooms, good food and environmentally friendly facilities.
The destinations visited in Bangladesh by expats are
mainly inspired by family and friends (62%), work
colleagues (42%) and guide books (19%).

27
Several expats are considering going on extended
weekends to the Bangladeshi countryside.
Expats, who have never stayed over night at national
destinations outside Dhaka, often base their perception of
Bangladesh on their impressions of the capital city. Some
of their specific reasons not to go are: dangerous and
hectic traffic, hours of travel time and lack of knowledge of
the existing destination possibilities in the national tourist
market.
Expats, who have stayed over night at national
destinations outside Dhaka, often travel in larger groups
related to work or personal relationships; quite often the
reason to go is home country visitors. Travelling in rural 4.4. Future tourist demand
Bangladesh is often explained as an intensive experience, Bangladesh is part of South Asia, which also includes
which often causes personal frustrations as well as an Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
increasing understanding of the countries background, This major region is the most under represented region in
present and future. Curious crowds of people, long travel tourism terms, with 23 per cent of the world’s population
time and hectic traffic are relevant travel obstacles, but but les than 1 per cent of stayovers. The majority of the
several travel experienced expats argue that the best tourist traffic is accounted for just one country: India.35
experiences in Bangladesh are to be found outside Dhaka. Except for the country of Bhutan, that with a strict tourist
visa policy is offering an expensive and exclusive tourist

35 Weaver & Lawton (2002)

28
product to few tourists, Bangladesh is the country in the same period, Travel & Tourism in South Asia is expected
region that have the least arrivals and revenue earned to post average annualized gains of an amazing 7.3%; the
from the industry. Tourist arrivals in 2005 were 208.000 expected growth in Bangladesh is 5.7% per annum.
from which the country earned 70 million US$. 36 Travel & Tourism Demand in South Asia is hereby
expected to reach 82,037.2 million US$ in 2007, growing
Contributing factors to the level of inbound tourism in to 204,964.5 million in 2017. In 2007, Bangladeshi Travel
South Asia include a long history of regional political and & Tourism is expected to post 3,429.3 million US$ of
social instability. Further more the region suffers by a economic activity (Total Demand), growing to 7,412.1
negative market image of widespread poverty, a million US$ by 2017. 38
rudimentary level of infrastructure and services, and a
4.5. Potential
relative remoteness to major market regions.
In 2002 the tourist prospects of at least some of the South Bangladesh is the country in the region that has the least
Asian countries was predicted to improve in the future arrivals and revenue earned from the tourism industry.
through the implementation of multilateral and inter- Lack of updated valid data about the Bangladesh tourism
regional projects that seek to develop their potential.37 sector makes it difficult to conclude the tourism demand
status and potential, but possible growth are indicated in
Travel & Tourism is in the beginning of the twenty-first all three target markets; inbound tourism, the local middle
century a high-growth activity, which is forecast to and high class and expats.
increase its total economic activity by 4.4% per annum
worldwide in real terms between 2008 and 2017. In this

36 See Appendix Table 7.1 and Table 7.2


37 Weaver & Lawton (2002) 38 World Travel & Tourism Council (2007a)

29
In spite of a growing tourist demand worldwide, regionally
and nationally there is no guarantee that Bangladesh will
benefit. The reason is39 that many destinations and
individual companies have shackled their ability to grow
by running competition on a cost-only basis and have
foregone innovation as a differentiating factor. The
organizations which will benefit most from anticipated
industry growth will be those that are quickest and most
flexible in reacting to the unforeseen. To be able to manage
industry volatility, organizations need to possess three
distinctive capabilities; F
 lexible operating models,
customer centricity as a core capability and operational
excellence.

39 World Travel & Tourism Council (2007b)

30
Asia and Europe.40 Several flight routes options exist from
5. The upcoming tourist European destinations to Dhaka. As an example flying
from Copenhagen, Denmark, to Dhaka, is possible with
industry one stopover in London (England), Bangkok (Thailand) or
The main sources for this chapter are Banglapedia (2006) Rome (Italy). Several alternative travel routes include a two
and Lonely Planet Bangladesh (2004). Additional stop over journey; First stop over is in one of the European
information regarding the players and prices in the local cities of Frankfurt (Germany), Helsinki (Finland), London
tourism business is available though Appendix 8.3 and (England), Wien (Austria) or Istanbul (Turkey). Second
8.4. stop over is in Dubai (United Arab Emirates), Doha (Qatar)
or Delhi (India).41
5.1. Transportation About 3.8 million international and 0.8 million domestic
International fares from Europe and Thailand to passengers pass through Zia International Airport
Bangladesh are often cut-rate flights and the national annually, which is over 50 % of the country's international
transport, whether it is by air, land or water, are cheap and domestic arrivals and departures.42
compared with western standard. In addition to the international airports, there are smaller,
domestic airports in Rajshahi, Bagerhat, Barisal, Cox’s
Bangladesh has international airports in Dhaka, Bazar, Jessore, and Saidpur. There are only a couple of
Chittagong and Sylhet; the main outbound destinations direct flights between regional cities, including Cox’s
are Bangkok (Thailand) and Calcutta (India). Bazar-Chittagong and Saidpur-Rajshahi.
The largest national airport, Zia International Airport, is
located in the capital. 20 airlines are handling over 183 40 Wikipedia.com (2008a)
international flights per week to over 25 destinations in 41 Search the 11. of April 2008 at www.travelmarket.dk
42 Wikipedia.com (2008a)

31
The Bangladeshi rail network is largely British-built, alternative. The main routes are covered by Bangladesh
linking most major towns and cities. The network is Inland Water Transport Corporation (BIWTC), while private
divided into two halves – eastern and western – by the companies are primary operating on shorter routes.
Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers. Connections between the Sundarbarns, the mangrove forest, can only be visited by
two networks are often poor further more travel is slowed boat.
down by unbridged rivers requiring ferry crossings and
circuitous routing. A train ride can take up exactly the
same time, or twice as long, as a bus ride.

Approximately 6240km (3877 miles) of roads makes it


possible to reach virtually everywhere in Bangladesh. Road
travel can be very slow given poor quality of many of the
roads, heavy and chaotic traffic in urban areas and
occasionally ferry crossings being a necessity. The
Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation provides a
countrywide network of bus services.

Bangladesh has a well-developed and well-used system of


water transport, further more with a total of 8000 km.,
rivers and streams outstretch roads in total distance.
Although water transportation is generally slow and highly
affected by the rise and fall of the rivers though out the
seasons, this transportation form is an interesting
32
5.2. Accommodation, restaurants and
night life
Traditionally, Bengalis have preferred to accommodate and
entertain guests at home, however small and congested a
house may be. Any suggestion of keeping guests or
relatives at hotels or entertaining them in restaurants was
almost sacrilegious.
During the British period, officials and their guests found
accommodation and food at circuit houses. In the 1950s
and 1960s, a large number of rest houses were built all
over the country providing services to business travellers.
The first hotels and motels build around interesting spots
with facilities suitable for tourists were launched by the
national tourism organisation ‘The Bangladeshi Parjatan The largest complexes were built in Dhaka, Chittagong
Corporation’ after 1960. Many little-known places of and Cox’s Bazar, but the organisation also offers
historic, cultural, ethnic and natural interest were made accommodation in the cities of Khulna, Dinajpur,
popular this way.43 Rangamati, Sylhet, Bogra, Rajshahi and Rangpur.44
Generally the facilities and service offered by these
accommodations are at a basic level.

43 Banglapedia (2006) 44 Bangladeshonline.com (2008)

33
A variety of facilities at different service levels are offered Hundreds of restaurants serve Local, Oriental, Indian and
in the private build hotels and restaurants which have Western food. Further more several exclusive private clubs
emerged all over the country since 1971. in Dhaka and Chittagong provide accommodation, food
Business related tourism still seems to be the primary and bar services to their members and guests.
target group and the metropolitan cities of Dhaka and Examples of popular private tourist accommodation
Chittagong has attracted most attention. The top end outside the two main cities include in Sylhet Division
hotels in Dhaka are: ‘Radisson Water Garden Hotel ‘Nazimgarh Resort’, in Dhaka Division ‘Royal Resort’, in
Dhaka’, ‘Sheraton Hotel’, ‘Sarina Hotel Dhaka’, ‘Pan Pacific Rajshahi Division ‘Hotel Naz Garden’, ‘Elenga Resort’ and
Sonargaon Hotel’, ‘The Westin Hotel Dhaka’ and ‘Hotel ‘Jamuna Resort’, in Chittagong Division ‘Esmeralda
Swiss Park Bangladesh’. Resort’, ‘Hillside Resort’ and ‘Seagull Hotel’.
Private tourist boat operators with onboard
accommodation are primary sailing in the Sundarbarns or
nearby Dhaka. Examples of high quality tourist boat
operators are ‘Contic’, ‘Guide Tours’, ‘Bangladesh
Ecotours’ and ‘Excursion Bangladesh’.

Bangladeshi nightlife is nearly non-existent. Being a


Muslim country, alcohol is frowned upon and found
mostly in the international clubs and pricier restaurants
in Dhaka and in some restaurants in tourist centers like
Cox's Bazar. Some of the nicest hotels in the cities have
fully equipped bars with exaggerated prices to match. In

34
town Teknaf and on Saint Martins Island smuggled beer Commerce, the Government of Bangladesh. In addition to
from Myanmar is occasionally sold.45 their focus on their home market, several TOAB
members49 cooperate with foreign tour operators and
5.3. Tour operators
provide tour packages to nearby South Asian counties -
Theoretically both the National tourist Office Parjatan (The primary India, Nepal, and Bhutan. Latest membership
Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation) and the private-sector update from 2006 show 73 members and 4 associated
run tours in Bangladesh, but in reality the private-sector members, including tour operators, hotels and resorts. 50
operators have eclipsed national tour service.46 At ‘The On foreign markets Bangladesh is included as a tourist
Bangladeshi Tourism Fair 2007’ it was estimated that destination by few local travel operators, for example
about 150 private tour operators in the country, no ‘Experience Bangladesh’ (USA), ‘Undiscovered
Bangladeshi tour operator works abroad, and no foreign Destinations’ (UK), ’UNITAS rejser’ (Denmark) and ‘Grace
tour operator work in Bangladesh. 47 Tours’ (Denmark).
In 1992 78 private tour operators48 founded the TOAB
association (Tour Operators Association of Bangladesh), In 2007 TOAB claimed that their members cater up to
which aims to develop and nourish tourism in Bangladesh 95% of the foreign tourists and also hosted most of the
and to promote tour products of Bangladesh in the domestic tourists: However the organisation do not have
international arena. In 2002 the association was any statistic on how many tourists they host every year,
recognized as a trade organization from the Ministry of

45 Wikitravel.com (2008b)
46 Lonely Planet (2004) 49For example ‘Amazing Holidays’, ‘Classic Tours & Travels’, ‘Galaxy
47 Daily Star (2007) Travel International’ and ‘The Guide Tours Ltd.’
48 Daily Star (2007) 50 TOAB (2006)

35
how big their private industry is, or how big their
contribution to the government treasury is.51
All tour operators outside TOAB do not seem totally
unprofessional though; two examples are ‘Contic’ and
‘Delta Outdoors’.

5.4. How is Bangladesh sold


The Bangladeshi tourist slogan most referred to is ’Visit
Bangladesh: Before Tourists come’, used several years ago
by Parjatan. Nevertheless the promotion of Bangladesh as
a tourist destination is far from unambiguous, most likely
due to lack of national political policy and business
corporation. The first and still active national policy on
tourism in Bangladesh was introduced in 1992, but
according to TOAB no changes in the industry has been
evident since its announcement. There is no cooperation
between the reprehensive organs form the government and
private tourist sector, Parjatan and TOAB, further more a
collectively marketing policy does not exist in either
organ.52

51 Daily Star (2007)


52 Daily Star (2007)

36
Several webpage’s are providing national tourism the potential of the Bangladeshi tourist product; these
information, e.g. Gateway Bangladesh, Bangladesh Online same phrases are often used in local sales promotion.
and Discovery Bangladesh.
Land of enormous beauty, hundreds of serpentine rivers,
The main source of the tourist promotion of Bangladesh crystal clear water lakes surrounded by ever green hills,
abroad is the few foreign tour operators selling this luxuriant tropical rain forests, beautiful cascades of green
destination. The profiles of these companies often include tea gardens, world's largest mangrove forest preserved as
concepts of sustainable travel and development, and their World Heritage, home of the Royal Bengal Tiger and the
tourist products are frequently aiming to improve the wild lives, warbling of birds in green trees, wind in the
tourist’s knowledge and understanding of the destination paddy fields, abundance of sunshine, world's longest
society. natural sea beach, rich cultural heritage, relics of ancient
In foreign markets Bangladesh is generally presented as a Buddhist civilizations and colourful tribal lives, -
fairly undiscovered tourist destination as well as a country Bangladesh creates an unforgettable impression of a land
with developing problems, natural beauty and interesting of peace and tranquillity.53
cultural life. Several of these foreign tours operators are
able to customise their Bangladeshi tours by including In the home market tourist promotion every company is
volunteer work, field study trips or visits to NGO projects, generally on their own.
traditional companies and villages. Sales promotion in English is common, as to the extent
that some companies do not promote to the local market
The national tourist promotion of Bangladesh by the local in the native language. Brochures, business cards and
tour operators seems to be highly influenced by national
pride. The quote below is an example of the perception of
53 Tour Planers Ltd. (2008)

37
word of mouth seem to be important marketing channels, Comparing the tours of the different operators, few stands
as not all companies have a web-page. out with a distinct profile and product while the majority
To attract tourists the local tourist operators often outbid seems to offer quit similar tours and sales phrases. To a
competitors in professionalism, quality, service, linguistic western observer the linguistic promotion promises
skills, sustainable development, adventure and unique sometimes also conflict with a poor photo quality,
tourist products. especially when showing a low or different quality concept
of facilities and service.

5.5. The future Bangladeshi tourist supply


Travel & Tourism is a catalyst for construction and
manufacturing also in Bangladesh. In 2007 the public and
private sectors combined were expected to invest 764.8
million US$ on Travel & Tourism or 4.6% of total
investment. By 2017, this amount should reach 1,864.3
million US$, corresponding to 4.4% of total investment.
The Bangladeshi level of investments in Travel & Tourism
is not exceptional. Worldwide in 2007, Travel & Tourism
Capital Investment were expected to reach 1,155,427.0
billion US$, equivalent to 9.5% of total annual worldwide
investment. At the year 2017 the investments in this line
of business is predicted to reach 2,392,765.0 billion US$,
or 9.9% of the total world investment. In South Asia,

38
Travel & Tourism Capital Investment is expected to total Bangladeshi government and private tourist sector are
23,306.0 million US$ in 2007, or 8.0% of total regional represented by organisations, nevertheless co-operation,
capital investment.54 strategies and policies aiming at developing a prosperous
and sustainable tourist industry are rear - and not always
The Bangladeshi aviation industry followed the globally implemented if they exist.
growth rate in 2007, with a 7.6 percent growth. To fulfil a
steadily growing demand for air transport several private
airline operators operating in Bangladesh are planning to
expanded their activities. This expansion includes adding
more aircraft to their fleet, new international destinations
and raising the numbers of flights to both international
and national destinations.55

5.6. The potential of the tourism industry


The tourism industry is quite a young line of business in
Bangladesh, where the development predominantly has
been left to the local market forces. Today this market has
both local and international tourist players competing for
the small existing market, primarily composed of a local
tourist market and a foreign business market. The
To develop the Bangladeshi tourism industry successfully
a local based strategy is crucial - without visions,
54 World Travel & Tourism Council (2007a)
missions, goals and policies for this line of business
55 Daily Star (2008)

39
the development is largely uncontrolled. Here by there is a complex. Every destination has an ultimate sustainable
possibility that an undesired or destroying tourist load, but a generally and objective definition of this
development takes place, often influent by powerful foreign sustainable limit do not exist.58
tourist players. Political and/or private initiatives can
control a national tourism development as well as
introduce initiatives to strengthen the influence of local
communities.56 The political history of Bangladesh seems
to indicate that the private sector should have a large
influence if the national tourism development is to be
sustainable and consistent.

The future tourism strategy should have two primary


aims. First; the development has to be sustainable
including economical, cultural and environmental
considerations. The term sustainable can be determined
as: “Development that meets the needs of the present
without compromising the ability of future generations to
meet their own needs”.57 As tourism often causes both
positive and negative influence on a destination the
phenomena and control of a sustainable development is

56 Denman, R. (2001)
57 Shaller, D. T. part 2, page 2 58 Butler, R. W. (1997)

40
The second aim for a Bangladeshi tourism strategy is that
actions should be taken to increase the tourist income by
raising the numbers of tourists, the income pr. tourist or
the average length of stay. In this regard it is obvious to
focus on existing local markets as well as to aim for the
traditionally profitable inbound tourist market.

The low existing inbound tourism demand indicates that


fundamental product and promotion improvement is
required.
Strategically product improvement must take into account
that “International travellers have a much higher service
expectation than most domestic travellers, they judge
operators (and hence destinations) on the basis of their
professionalism. And although there may be many
professional operations in Bangladesh, both large and
small, there is a terrible lack of connection between their
products and the discerning dollar-spending traveller.”59
To meet the expectations of the foreign market
investments in the existing infrastructure and other
tourism related services seems to be necessary. Likewise

59 JoyBangla.info (2008b)

41
product improvement must result in a desired tourist world niche market increasing especially in USA and
product, which must take existing Bangladeshi attraction Europe.62
supply and foreign demand into account.
The Bangladeshi destination already awakes life lessons
and eye-opening experiences to expatriates and some of
the existing product potential lies in trekking, beach
resorts, wildlife and the everyday life of the Bangladeshi
people. One possible national product improvement
strategy60 therefore is to develop the Bangladeshi tourist
destination inspired by the philosophy of responsible
travel. This philosophy “redefines the way people travel
around the world. [The responsible traveller] wants a
holiday that minimises his/her impact on the environment
and detrimental influence on local cultures, while
simultaneously enlightening themselves about the world
abroad.”61
The responsible target market generally travel for a longer
Regarding strategically tourism promotion, the second
time period, they would most likely buy a guided round
improvement proposed to attract the inbound market, this
trip in Bangladesh and/or including nearby countries e.g.
should be more unanimous and go far beyond the slogan:
Nepal, India, Burma and Bhutan. Responsible travel is a
’Visit Bangladesh: Before Tourists come’.

60 Inspired by JoyBangla.info (2008b) and Daily Star (2007)


61 Responsibletravel.com (2008a) 62 Kristelig Dagblad (2008)

42
The Bangladeshi tourism industry can be criticized for
lacking marketing professionalism, which is severely
crippling the industry’s inbound and expatriate tourism
growth.63 The solution is that the local operators’ provide
the tourists with truthful, well researched and easy-to-
understand information on what a journey to the country
will be like, and why it will be memorable.
In the process of accessing new foreign tourist markets the
expatriates can be considered a pivotal springboard, as
one can never underestimate the power of the word of
mouth. Before Bangladeshi tour operators can do any kind
of job reaching the outside world, they need to convince
the expat market first.

63 According to Mikey Leung, travel journalist and initiative to the


webpage JoyBangla.info, and Majbritt Thomsen, the author of this
paper.

43
6. Executive summary
This paper provides an introduction to the Bangladeshi
tourist sector focusing on its general status and
development potential. It is the hope to increase the
interest of the Danish tourism business in Bangladesh as
well as draw the attention to the development possibilities
through the DANIDA B2B programme.

Reality in Bangladesh is not as devastating as the


international image of the country indicates. The country
show a number of positive development indications in
spite of huge challenges related to geography, climate, Due to historical isolation Bangladeshi culture and history
history, population and national economy. is distinct. The six national divisions offer both
Tourism has since the 1990s been a small but rapidly individually and combining a variety of natural and
growing sector of the economy. Foreign embassies request cultural destinations suitable for tourist attractions. The
travellers in Bangladesh to be alert to several safety and Bangladeshi authorities are concerned with safeguarding
security issues, nevertheless crime rates have traditionally its heritage, including an extraordinary intangible heritage
been low compared to other areas of the world. General and the traditional Bengali handicraft. Nevertheless the
travel advice is to be well informed of world events and standard for preservation, development and level of
local developments, avoid potential dangerous situations international appeal of these resources are affected both
and travel responsibly. by a low sustainable commercial use and several national

44
challenges. Sustainable tourist development could have a the tourism industry. This might change in the future as
major positive impact. the travel and tourism activity is forecast to increase
worldwide, regionally and nationally. The most successful
organisations in the global tourism market will be those
who are quickest and most flexible in reacting to the
unforeseen.

The tourism industry is quite a young line of business in


Bangladesh. It is predominantly developed by local market
forces to the national tourist market and a foreign urban
business market. Organisations represent the government
and private tourist sector, but co-operation, strategies and
policies to develop a prosperous and sustainable tourist
industry are rear. Both local and international tourist
players are competing for the existing market, but no

Target groups in the Bengalis tourism industry are: Bangladeshi tour operator works abroad, and no foreign

inbound tourists; the local high and middle class and tour operator work in Bangladesh.

expats. Lack of update data makes it difficult to conclude The present and future level of national investments in the

the tourism demand status and potential, but possible travel and tourism sector is lower than the average world

growth are indicated in all three target markets. and regional investments levels.

Bangladesh is one of the countries in the South Asian


region that has the least arrivals and revenue earned from

45
To successfully develop the Bangladeshi tourism industry
a local based strategy is crucial. This strategy should aim
both at sustainable development (including economical,
cultural and environmental considerations) and increasing
tourist income. It is obvious to focus on existing local
markets as well as to aim for the traditionally profitable
inbound tourist market.
The low existing inbound tourism demand indicates
though that fundamental product and promotion
improvement is required. Before Bangladeshi tour
operators can do any kind of job reaching the outside
world they need to convince the expat market first.

46
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49
Sustainable development Network Programme (SDNP) Wikipedia.com (2008a) ‘Zia International Airport’
(2008) http://www.sdnbd.org/ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zia_International_Airport
TOAB (2006) ’List of the TOAB members’
http://www.toab.org/memberlist.html Wikitravel.com (2008b) ‘Bangladesh’
http://wikitravel.org/en/Bangladesh
Tour Planers Ltd. (2008) ‘Bangladesh’ http://www.tour-
planners.com/bangladesh.html Workpremit.com (2007) ‘Bangladesh imposes five-year
limit on foreign work permits’
UNESCO (2008a) ‘Bangladesh’ http://www.workpermit.com/news/2007-10-
http://whc.unesco.org/en/statesparties/bd 23/bangladesh/board-of-investment-imposes-five-year-
work-permit-limit.htm
UNESCO (2008b) ‘Culture-Bangladesh’
http://portal.unesco.org/geography/en/ev.php- World Travel & Tourism Council (2007a) ‘Bangladesh
URL_ID=2968&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201. Travel & Tourism – navigating the path ahead’
html http://www.wttc.travel/eng/Tourism_Research/Tourism_
Satellite_Accounting/TSA_Country_Reports/Bangladesh/
UNESCO (2008c) ‘Seal of Excellence (SEAL) programme’
http://www.unescobkk.org/index.php?id=483 World Travel & Tourism Council Bangladesh (2007b)
‘Executive Summary Travel & Tourism - navigating the
Weaver, D. & Lawton, L. (2002) ‘Tourism Management’. 2. path ahead’
ed. John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd http://www.wttc.travel/bin/pdf/original_pdf_file/executiv
esummary2007.pdf

50
8.3. Players in the local tourism business
8. Appendix Accommodation
Elenga Resort www.ipsslgroup.com/serv-elenga.htm
8.1. Tourist arrivals (in thousands)64
Esmeralda Resort www.esmeralda-resort.com
Country 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Hillside Resort www.guidetours.com
Bhutan 5 6 7 8 6 6 6 9 13,6 NA
India 2395 2382 2482 2649 2537 2384 2726 3371 3919 NA
Hotel Naz Garden www.hotelnazgarden.com/home.php
Maldives 366 396 430 467 461 485 564 616 395 NA Hotel Swiss Park Bangladesh
Nepal 422 464 492 464 361 275 338 385 375 NA
Jamuna Resort www.jamunaresort.com
Pakistan 375 429 432 557 500 498 479 648 798 NA
Sri Lanka 384 409 465 445 397 457 583 566 669 NA Nazimgarh Resort http://nazimgarh.com/
Bangladesh 183 172 173 199 207 207 244 271 208 200
Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel

8.2. Tourism revenue (in millions US$)65 www.panpacific.com/Dhaka/Overview.html


Sarina Hotel Dhaka www.sarinahotel.com/
Country 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
Bhutan 6 8 9 10 9 8 8 13 19 NA Seagull Hotel www.seagullhotelbd.com/cox's_bazar.htm
India 2889 2948 3009 3168 3042 3013 3533 4769 NA NA Sheraton Hotel
Maldives 286 303 314 321 327 337 402 471 287 NA
Nepal 116 153 229 219 191 134 232 260 160 NA
Radisson Water Garden Hotel Dhaka
Pakistan 117 98 492 551 533 562 618 765 827 NA www.radisson.com/dhakabn
Sri Lanka 212 231 414 388 347 594 692 808 729 NA
Royal Resort www.lighthousebd.com/resort/
Bangladesh 62 52 50 50 48 57 58 67 70 NA
The Westin Hotel Dhaka

64 Daily Star (2007)


65 Daily Star (2007)

51
Transportation Tour operators
Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation (BIWTC) Amazing Holidays www.holidays-amazing.com
www.mos.gov.bd/biwtc.htm Bangladesh Ecotours www.bangladeshecotours.com/
Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation www.brtc.gov.bd/ Classic Tours & Travels www.classictours-bd.com
Royal Bengal (Aviana Airways Ltd.) Contic www.contic.com/Main.html
www.flyroyalbengal.com Delta Outdoors www.delta-outdoors.com/
United Airways (BD) Ltd. www.uabdl.com Excursion Bangladesh www.excursionbangladesh.com/
Zia International Airport Experience Bangladesh (USA)
www.experiencebangladesh.com/
Tourist information Galaxy Travel International www.galaxybd.com
Bangladesh Online www.bangladeshonline.com/ Grace Tours (Denmark) www.gracetours.com/default.asp
Discovery Bangladesh www.discoverybangladesh.com Guide Tours Ltd. www.guidetours.com
Joy Bangla www.joybangla.info Undiscovered Destinations (UK) www.undiscovered-
Gateway Bangladesh www.bdgateway.org/ destinations.com/
UNITAS rejser (Denmark) www.unitasrejser.dk/
Tourist organisations
Parjatan (The Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation)
www.bangladeshtourism.gov.bd/
TOAB (Tour Operators Association of Bangladesh)
www.toab.org/

52
8.4. Prices in Bangladesh Bangkok, Thailand to Dhaka, Bangladesh from US$672

The national currency is the Taka divided in 100 paisa.


National flights
100 Taka was US$1.45 or 6.75 Danish Kroner according
United Airways Ltd. One way promotion fares:
to CoinMill.com. (19. April 2008)
Dhaka to Jessore 2600 Taka
Dhaka to Cox’s Bazar 4200 Taka
Bangladesh experienced low to moderate inflation over the
Sylhet to Chittagong 4000 Taka
last one decade, except for the year 1997-1998 when the
Royal Bengal
consumer price index climbed to 9%. The index hovered
Dhaka to Chittagong 3520 Taka
around 7% or below 2005-2006. The price in food prices
Dhaka to Sylhet 3175 Taka
averaged at 6% per year during 1996-97 to 2005-06. But
Chittagong to Cox’s Bazar 1995 Taka
in 2007-2008, Bangladesh is confronted with a high-price
level that promises to stick around for an unforeseeable
Tourist accommodation
future, giving the scarcity in food supply and the countries
The Westin Hotel Dhaka
vulnerability to weather. (Published On: 2008-04-18)66
US$211 Double room, US$ 196 Single room.
Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel
Transportation
US$184 Double room, US$ 173 Single room.
International flights67 (return)
Sheraton Hotel
Copenhagen, Denmark to Dhaka, Bangladesh from
US$179 Double room, US$169 Single room.
US$1372
Sarina Hotel Dhaka
London, UK to Dhaka, Bangladesh from US$906
US$105 Double room, US$ 91 Single room.
66 Daily Star (2008a)
67 www.travelmarket.dk search 19. of April 2008

53
Resorts/hotels outside Dhaka: Hotel Pashur, Khulna, Khulna Division (Parjatan Hotel)
Hillside Resort, Bandarban, Chittagong Division AC room 1200 Taka
Cottages (double) from 1200 Taka No AC room 600 Taka
Tribal houses (double) from 800 TK
Royal Resort, Dhanbari, Tangail, Dhaka Division Domestic Tour Package
Palace, rooms from 75 US$, suite 175 US$ Contic (1 night 2 days boat trip) Dhaka-Srimongol-Dhaka
Villa, room from 25 US$ Super deluxe 7000 Taka/person
Bungalows, from 60 US$ Deluxe 5000 Taka/person
Cottage, from 40US$ Economy 3500 Taka/person
Jamuna Resort, Jamuna River, Rajshahi Division Contic (2 nights 3 days boat trip) Dhaka-Cox’s Bazar -
Cottage from 6000.00 TK Dhaka
Suites from 4250.00 TK Super deluxe 10.500 Taka/person
Elenga Resort, Kalihati, Rajshahi Division Deluxe 8500 Taka/person
Cottages of different sizes from 5500TK Economy 5500 Taka/person
Dormitory style from 2750 TK Safari plus (3 days 3 nights) Bandarban, Chittagong
Dormitory style from 660 TK double District
Seagull Hotel, Cox’s Bazar, Chittagong Division Standard 2850 Taka/person
Presidential suite (Double) US$250 Executive 3950 Taka/person
Suites (Double) US$108 Safari plus (3 days 3 nights) Sylhet, Sylhet Division
Deluxe sea view (Double) US$54 Standard 4850 Taka/person
Regular sea view (Double) US$45 Executive 6950 Taka/person

54
The tiger trail (3 days 2 nights) Cox’s Bazar, Chittagong Milk (local) 100 Taka/L
District Milk (imported) 140 taka /L
From US$225 Danish butter (imported) 50 Taka /100 g
The tiger trail (2 days 1 night) Sylhet, Sylhet District KFC menu 250 Taka
From US$80 Chicken (800 grams) Taka 200
The tiger trail (2 days 1 night) Rajshahi, Rajshahi Division Coarse rice 30-40 Taka per kg
From US$105 Fine rice 80-100 Taka a kg.
Non-brand Soya bean Taka 108-110 per kg
Salary Super palm oil Taka 101-103 a kg
Unskilled worker e.g. construction labor 200-300 Taka a
day Fuel
Office employee 12.000 Taka/month Petrol 68 Taka a litter
Average manger 35.000 Taka/month Gas (car) 8 Taka a litter
Gas (house) 400 Taka a month
Internet
Private 96 Kbps 3000 Taka a month Club membership
Corporate 256 Kbps 25.300 Taka a month International Club Monthly fee family (US$75) and single
Corporate 512 Kbps 40.000 Taka a month US$45
Dutch Club Monthly fee family (US$100) and single US$50
Mortgage payment American Club Monthly fee family (US$60) and single
Up quarters in Dhaka US$30
Apartment 2000 sqf. (181 sqm.) 65.000 Taka a month
Food
55
8.5. SWOT analysis of the Bangladeshi tourists was 165.887 tourists recorded in 1996, the

tourism sector68 highest was 271.270 tourists in 2004.

8.5.1. Strengths What products are accentually and potentially available?


Internal environment of the Bangladeshi tourist destination Due to historical isolation Bangladeshi culture and history
is distinct from many countries.
What is the current level of patronage, and how does this Bangladesh offers a variety of natural and cultural tourist
compare with past trends? destinations, some on the UNESCO Heritage List.
Tourists in Bangladesh are inbound tourists, Bangladeshi The traditional Bengali handicraft is cheap
middle and high class or expats. The present society and the developing process are
interesting tourist attractions sold primary by foreign tour
There is a lack of knowledge about demand in the operators to the inbound market.
Bangladeshi tourism business, particular regarding the The national transport, whether it is by air, land or water,
Bangladeshi middle and high class and the expatriated is cheap. Slow existing transportation by road, rail and
community. water can be an adventure with the right positive attitude.
A variety of tourist accommodation facilities are offered in
Inbound tourism registration exist for the period 1996- rural and urban Bangladesh. Most investment has been
2005. Average number of inbound tourists in the period don in the Business related tourism and the metropolitan
was 203.015 tourists. The lowest number of inbound cities.

Bangladesh is concerned with safeguarding a heritage


68 This SWOT analysis is mainly inspired by Daily Star (2007) and damaged by increased salinity and climate change.
JoyBangla.info (2008)

56
Nevertheless sustainable commercial use of these
resources is often low, which affect the standard for Who are the customers, and how are they segmented?
preservation, development and level of international Bangladesh attracts inbound tourists from many
appeal. countries; several pull-factors are expected and the tourist
Bangladesh is a fairly new and rarely visited inbound activity is spread throughout the year. South Asia and
tourist destination, which can attract an adventure Europe are the larges inbound regions and India, UK and
searching tourist market. USA are the larges inbound countries.
The world image of Bangladesh can inspire to several new
sustainable tourist attractions to increase understanding Local travel market is part of the growing urban
of the countries history and developing challenges. population, which live much like their Western
Interested in the effects of global warming can become a counterparts. 12 million passport holders and a decrease
new inbound travel market in Bangladesh, as the country in annual working days since 2005 are estimated to have
is one of the 10 countries most vulnerable to a rise in sea a positive effect on the local travel market.
level. Expatriated Bangladeshis represent a word of mouth
The tourism potential in Bangladesh can be developed access to several potential national target markets. Moving
through implementation of multilateral and inter-regional back to their native country some further more represent a
projects or co-operation with foreign travel companies. valuable skilled workforce in the tourism sector.
Resposibletravel.com gives two examples of sustainable
co-operation holidays in Bangladesh, where foreign The urban expatriated community in Bangladesh
providers are committed to support local people and the represents a variety of nationalities average years of stay
environment.69 seems to be between 2-5 years. The all year present expat
community in Bangladesh is a wealthy and travel
69 Responsibletravel.com (2008b)

57
consuming target market, which further more represent a The national aviation industry are expanding, as the
word of mouth access to several potential national target Bangladeshi aviation industry followed the globally growth
markets. rate in 2007.

8.5.2. Weaknesses
What are the activities and behaviour of the costumers?
Internal environment of the Bangladeshi tourist destination
In terms of existing tourist products, both inbound and
home market, Rajshahi, Sylhet, Chittagong and Khulna
What is the current level of visitation, and how does this
Division are the main tourist divisions. Sundarbarns, Cox’
compare with past trends?
Bazar and Chittagong Hill Tracks are some of the most
popular tourist destinations.
What products are accentually and potentially available?
Several factors, e.g. amount of garbage and the condition
To what extent are costumers satisfied with the available
of several attractions, indicate that the existing tourism
products?
business is not sustainable.
Several travel experienced expats argue that the best
The accessibility to tourist destinations and
experiences in Bangladesh are to be found outside Dhaka.
accommodations is negatively affected by non-availability
of adequate infrastructure, including domestic and
What are the available financial and human resources?
international transportation.
The tourism industry has low construction, running and
Existing beach life, Bangladeshi style, includes mud flats
salary expenses.
destinations loathed during high season and women
Labour force is reliable and abundant.
bathing in a two-piece suit. This can not be sold as a
English is commonly used by the tourism industry.
typical western mass tourism sea destination.

58
The low existing inbound tourism demand indicates that Social insecurity: Local people do not have visitor
fundamental product and promotion improvement is experience, so tourists sometime feel uneasy in some
required. places.
Tourism products should relate to the fact that Several expats, who have no experience with urban
Bangladesh is a Modern Muslim society and a densely Bangladesh, base their perception of rural Bangladesh on
populated developing country, which has been historical their impressions of the capital city.
isolated. Sustainable tourism product is one such
solution. What are the available financial and human resources?
Tourists, especially inbound tourists, need a guide or a The Bangladeshi level of investments in Travel & Tourism
high level of knowledge to travel safely and responsible is not exceptional, compared with regional and worldwide
(culture and nature awareness) in Bangladesh. annual investment.
The tourism industry is vulnerable due a short high
Who are the customers, and how are they segmented? season and a large local market share.
Inadequate trained manpower.
What are the activities and behaviour of the costumers?
The tourism industry is quite a young line of business in
To what extent are costumers satisfied with the available Bangladesh, where the development predominantly has
products? been left to the local market forces.
Several tourist products do not live up to a western The tourism development is largely uncontrolled in
concept of quality and service. Bangladesh as no marketing or developing policy exists, in
Travelling time and safety are relevant obstacles to the spite of the fact that the Bangladeshi government and
local expat target market. private tourist sector are represented by organisations

59
(Parjatan and TOAB).
There is a lack of knowledge about demand, supply and The interim government provides travellers with a form of
competitors in the Bangladeshi tourism business. relative stability. Furthermore this government is fighting
There is a low level of co-operation and innovation in the corruption and bureaucratic procedures.
tourism sector. Despite some unfathomable hindrances national economy
Tourism industry lacks marketing professionalism, which is improving and the country is showing positive
is severely crippling the industry’s inbound tourism development.
growth. In the home market tourist promotion every The seasonal weather is relatively stable; especially the
company is generally on their own. It is expensive and cold season is comfortable for travelling.
ineffective for local operators to reach the worldwide Bangla and English speaking population the last
market at the current time. mentioned primarily consist of well educated urban
The inbound tourism marketing is primarily preformed by people.
few foreign tour operators. This fact indicates that the Strong linguistic, cultural and historical connections exist
Bangladeshi tour operators are loosing income to their to England, Pakistan and India.
foreign competitors. Number of tourists in Bangladesh is estimated to increase
due to generally growing local, regional and world tourism
8.5.3. Opportunities
travel activities.
General environment of the Bangladeshi tourism system
Responsible tourism is a growing world market niche.
Bangladesh is a Democratic Muslim state more interesting
in national developing challenges than the conflicts
Competing destinations or businesses
between the ‘Western’ and ‘Muslim’ world.
Inbound travel pattern to nearby tourist countries
The country is a liberal democracy and has a generally
correspond to the best travel season in Bangladesh.
homogeneous society and one dominant religion.

60
Bangladesh has a strategic stopover position in the region The preservation of natural and historical attractions is
to the larges inbound tourist destination in the region, just one challenge between several to the Bangladeshi
India, as well as two prominent world ecotourism society.
destination, Nepal and Bhutan.
Competing destinations or businesses
8.5.4. Threats
South Asia is the most under represented region in
General environment of the Bangladeshi tourism system
tourism terms. Competing regional countries to
Infrastructural development is required, especial road and
Bangladesh, except for Bhutan, have more arrivals and
rail is a significant obstacle for the tourism sector.
revenue earned from Tourism.
Technological development is required.
The future average annual tourism investment worldwide
Low levels of basic education coupled with lack of the
and in the South Asian regional is far larger than in
latest technical and managerial skills.
Bangladesh.
The climatic changes through out the year and in the
future have large implications for travelling in Bangladesh.
Bangladesh has occasionally storms, floods and
earthquakes.
The country has a worldwide image of poverty, natural
catastrophes and corruption.
The national tourism sector is negatively affected from lack
of social and political commitment. The future political
situation in Bangladesh is highly depending on the coming
election.

61
8.6. Contact information

Royal Danish Embassy:


Writer:
Ib Albertsen
Majbritt Thomsen
Program Co-ordinator
MA in Tourism from Aalborg University,
Business-to-Business (B2B) Programme
Denmark

Road 51, House 1


Road 64, House 29, Apartment C4
Gulshan 2, Dhaka 1212
Gulshan 2, Dhaka 1212,
Bangladesh
Bangladesh
E-mail:ibalbe@um.dk
E-mail: Majbritt.Thomsen@gmail.com
www.ambdhaka.um.dk
Tel. +880 1720 056 355
Tel. +880 (2) 882 2499
Ext. 210
Fax +880 (2) 882 3638
www.b2bprogramme.com

62

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