by Sohrab Hossain
According to 2017 Travel and Tourism Competitiveness report, Bangladesh is ranked 12th amongst 136 countries, while even a conservative Islamic republic Pakistan is ranked at 124th position. Meaning, Bangladesh is the least attractive tourist destination in South Asia. Neighboring India stood at 40th, Sri Lanka 64th, Bhutan 78th, and Nepal at 103d position. Maldives tops the list amongst South Asian nations as the most attractive nations in the region while Spain, France and Germany grab the best and top attractive tourist destinations in the world.
Being a proud Bangladeshi, I not only felt extremely shocked at this very poor ranking of my country, but also got astonished thinking our ranking even is one step below Pakistan.
Bangladesh is the country of infinite natural beauty with the longest sea beach in the world in Cox’s Bazar and the mangrove forest – Sundarbans. Why such beautiful places do not attract tourists? Oh, I also should mention the name of Saint Martin Island – the magnificent coral island on the Bay of Bengal. If our government would declare this island as the exclusive tourist zone and remove/evict all of the existing structures and establishment there, and get expert tourism consultants in preparing a comprehensive design and planning – Bangladesh would surely make huge sum of money from this project alone.
We can construct hotels, motels, resorts, restaurants, casinos, golf course, swimming pools, pubs, bars, discos, saunas, and almost everything a tourist would find in Bali, Bangkok, Phuket, Male, dubai, and even in Las Vegas. Only thing is, we have to reboot our orthodox mindset. We can’t embrace policies or ideologies of Iran or other extremely conservative Islamist or radical thoughts. We need to follow Maldives, Indonesia, UAE and even beyond. That is the only option, which would make Bangladesh a very attractive tourist destination.