Bangladesh is blessed with many attractive tourist spots. Certainly, the country located in South Asia has endowed with an immense treasure of natural beauties and vestiges of the ancient and the Middle Ages. Natural treasures such as beaches, lakes, rivers, hills, forests, wildlife, tribal life, archaeological remains, historical monuments, religious and cultural heritages, crafts are of great value to people. Tourist attractions.
Every year, a large number of domestic and foreign tourists visit the country. It is estimated that the country was visited by 0.3 million foreign tourists in 2019. At the same time, around 90 lakh domestic tourists travel through the country every year. But in all the tourist spots in the country, visitors are exploited in several ways.
According to some sources, some tourist places are not safe for tourists. On top of that, harassment of tourists was very common. Mismanagement in the tourism industry has been very evident over the years. It is commonly noticed that people associated with tourist centers are involved in a lot of bad management and harass visitors in many ways.
Some hotel and motel owners in tourist areas do business in syndicates. Claims are so common from visitors that the price of food is 20 to 50 times higher in adjacent restaurants than it usually should be. Not only that, the quality of food in many restaurants is unsatisfactory and in most cases visitors are cheated.
The means of transport that visitors are forced to take are very expensive. Throughout the year, some local unions remain busy trapping visitors and creating an artificial shortage of food and accommodation. It’s so frustrating that even rickshaw pullers, taxi drivers, or food vendors all have the bad intention of deceiving visitors into tourist spots.
This month, before Victory Day, we saw thousands of local and foreign tourists flock to the beaches of Kuakata and Cox’s Bazar to enjoy their vacations. Likewise, the Haor districts of Kishoreganj and Moulvibazar, the leisure parks of Savar and Narsingdi and the seaside resorts of Gazipur were full of tourists. It was alleged that hotels, motels and transportation prices had doubled amid the huge influx of visitors. Not only that, easy bike, rickshaw pullers, and restaurant owners were charging tourists more, which was admitted by Abul Qasim, general secretary of the Hotel and Motel Owners Association of Cox’s Bazar.
Again we knew from online media that a plate of rice with mashed potatoes and lentils cost between 350 and 500 TK near Cox’s Bazar Sea beach. Many visitors could not find accommodation in very expensive guesthouses and took refuge in the open air on the beach. Things get so frustrating when you see that girls and women don’t have their security to enjoy tourist spots. One of the most shocking news lately has drawn huge criticism among the population.
It has been revealed in various media that a couple with their eight month old child from Dhaka went to Cox’s Bazar for sightseeing. Intentionally, a few local culprits had an argument with them at Laboni Beach. They targeted the women and a few hours later men picked up the husband and child in an auto-rickshaw. On the other hand, three others took the woman to a secluded place and raped her.
Again, they took the woman to the Zia Guest Inn and after taking yaba pills, they raped her there. It is alleged that the victim sought help from the police, but the police advised the woman to go to the police station to fill out a general diary. However, the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) rescued the victim. This incident shocked the nation. The storyline fits with the fact that girls and women barely have their security in the famous tourist spot of Cox’s Bazar.
Many claim that the mismanagement of the country’s tourist spots favors perpetrators to frequently commit such heinous crimes. However, this rape incident will tarnish the image of our tourist spots and people will obviously think a thousand times before visiting any tourist spot in the country taking with their families.
Sources claim that 1.5 to 1.6 million Bangladeshi tourists visit other countries each year. Certainly, the number of tourists visiting other countries will be much higher if quality tourist facilities and security are not ensured in every tourist place.
However, the nation demands the swift arrest of the culprits and the confirmation of the exemplary punishment for the perpetrators in no time. Once again, it is very urgent to restore the image of the world famous sea beach to fight without delay all kinds of tourist harassment.
The tourism sector in Bangladesh has opened up many opportunities over the years. According to the BBS Tourism Satellite Account 2020, the contribution of tourism to our gross domestic product is estimated at 3.02%. According to the 2018 report, this sector accounted for 3.09% of total employment in the country. But it is evident that the tourism industry has yet to hold the desired position in the global tourism arena. As of the 2019 report, the country ranked 120th out of 140 countries in tourism prospects.
But the question is: what are the factors why the country’s tourism has let many countries develop significantly with tourism? Many can argue that the main challenges are the lack of infrastructure and means of communication suitable for tourists. It is true that many tourist centers in the country still lack adequate infrastructure, good communication and overall tourist safety.
However, it is appreciable to see a positive growth trend in the tourism industry. The current government headed by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has taken a number of initiatives that work towards modernizing the country’s tourism – a journey to boost our economy through tourism development. Along with government initiatives, innovative young entrepreneurs are setting up hotels and motels in the country to help the tourism sector.
Of course, all these initiatives contribute to the prosperity of tourism in our country. We see that the number of tourists over the years has increased significantly, which contributes to our GDP. But the most important thing is to take strict measures against any mismanagement in this sector. It is very urgent to provide tourists with a secure atmosphere to develop this sector in a sustainable way. To guarantee this, there is no other alternative than to keep the tourist places safe from all kinds of harassment.
The writer teaches at Prime University. He is also a researcher at the IBS. E-mail: [email protected]