Bangladesh needs to get place on world tourists’ map

Bangladesh needs to be listed on the world tourist map of UNWTO so that the country can be branded as a potential tourist destination before the globe. For attracting more foreign tourists, the country has to promote its domestic tourism by encouraging more local people travel different parts. There is lack of investment to attract foreign tourists in the country. The investment plans must be sustainable and the good thing is that the government has also shown interest to make huge investment in the industry. If 2 percent people travel different sites in the country, then it would help increase business for the hospitality industry. If this flow increases and the message is conveyed to the global arena, then foreigners will be able to know our resources and tourism products. Mohammad Zahirul Islam (Dalton Zahir), Head of Sales & Marketing of BRAC Services Limited tells Bangladesh Post.
The following is the excerpts of the interview.
Bangladesh Post: Tell us about your current business operation.
Dalton Zahir: BRAC has many businesses. But my sector is based on tourism and hospitality. We have four services – BRAC CDM, Rajendrapur (Gazipur); BRAC CDM Savar; Artisan Hotel, Uttara; and BRAC Center INN, Mohakhali. We basically provide hospitality services under BRAC Services. Our hospitality management is contributing to the country’s tourism sector.
Bangladesh Post: Would you please describe the services of BRAC properties?
Dalton Zahir: At BRAC CDM Rajendrapur, there are 156 rooms in three magnificent towers at BRAC CDM Rajendrapur. It has been established on 120 bigahs of land. This entire area is like a resort. Recently an international meeting was arranged there where different nationalists from 35 countries joined. We basically arrange this type of international conferences.
At BRAC CDM Savar, there are 174 rooms and 20 conference venues. International organisations always select us to organise different workshops, training and other programmes.
We have international standard accommodation at Savar and Rajendrapur, where lots of private organisations are situated. We are ready to meet demand of every guest.
Bangladesh Post: Is the services enough to grow B2B tourism?
Dalton Zahir: Before commenting anything about B2B, I would like to share that UNWTO (United Nations World Tourism Organisation) advised us to promote domestic tourism. If 2 percent of the country’s total population travel during the tour season, that would help increase business of the hospitality industry manifold. It will be hard to find any vacant hotels then. If this flow increases and the message is conveyed to the global arena, then foreigners will be able to know our resources and tourism products. When local visitors travel more inside the country, they spend more here. If they travel abroad, then the earnings of the country hospitality industry reduce. We have to inspire more local tourists for visiting different tourists’ sites in the country. There is lack of investment to attract foreign tourists in the country. Our investment plans must be sustainable. We have to design plans to promote tourism not only in holidays but also the other days of the week. Tour related organisations should offer more to the tourists.
Bangladesh Post: What preparation does the country have to welcome foreign guests?
Dalton Zahir: Unfortunately, there is no tourism calendar, no tourism related publications, and no proper guideline in the country. Even the website of government tourism organisations does not have information about infrastructure like hotels and motels. The private hotel owners are disseminating information by their own efforts. If these could be done at national levels, then it could attract more foreign tourists and benefit the industry a lot. To let more people know about tourism sector, the government should arrange one-to-one meeting among industry stakeholders to implement tourism plans.
Bangladesh Post: Mention about business of the hospitality industry.
Dalton Zahir: Experts know who are their clients and how to communicate with them, how to send them confirmation letters through mail. They can conduct all sorts of communications and carry out their organization through aggressive marketing. Unfortunately, the experts in the industry are not given proper recognition.
Hotel managements work hard to promote their business. They can work for improving their surroundings but not the entire tourism industry.
Bangladesh Post: How can the country’s tourist industry be promoted?
Dalton Zahir: At present, there is no authority who works to promote the tourism industry. There are various forums in the country who are working for development of tourism sector.
Initiative should be taken to encourage travellers write more travel stories. Travelers who write from their experience should be rewarded. Positive write-ups should be published in the international field. A dedicated media should be established that will encourage write travel stories and disseminate globally.
In the present era of social media, we have to keep writing more and more about tourism sector. We have to avoid highlighting negative news. Maybe you will find roads are broken. Maybe infrastructures are inadequate but we have natural beauty which is hard to find in any other part of the world.
Bangladesh Post: Just a few days ago, the government announced steps to make more people skilled for hospitality sector. How do you describe this?
Dalton Zahir: Government initiatives are always welcome. But what I think, the government at first has to prepare a list of skilled and expert people who are working in this sector and recognize them for their dedication for the industry through their life. There are lots of people who are well known, even in the international arena. We have to honour those people. They are the real assets and they can show the pathways for actual development of the industry.
There are various universities who have opened tourism subject. They only give theoretical knowledge but no practical ideas. The students should be kept under closer connection of industry experts since very beginning of their academic life for gaining practical knowledge.  The industry needs expert people to guide the new comers.  The experience of specialised people can help the industry gain real ideas. The carrier plan of a student can be realistic and sustainable if they start their university life under the guidance of industry experts.
Bangladesh Post: How does your organisation find the interns?
Dalton Zahir: We offer internships, but there are some challenges here. If I appoint any intern, I cannot let him or her work at the front desk. There are several areas in standard hotels where she or he starts learning from the bottom line. For internships there are no certain rules. If anyone is unable to learn the real thing, then sometimes they get
lost from the industry. If we find any intern useful, we offer them job after internships.
Bangladesh Post: Would you share your experience about UNWTO conference held in Chittagong recently?
Dalton Zahir: I attended the conference. Maybe I was the only participant from the hospitality sector. The conference put emphasize on promoting tourism. I talked to UNWTO secretary. This kind of conference is held every year in different parts of the world. There was a session about crisis management where a good number of suggestions came to develop this sector.
UNWTO secretary general said, the country needs to decide first what it is going to promote. Bangladesh has Cox’s Bazar, Bandarban, Hill Tracks, heritage and more. He suggested us to make an icon which will represent the country before the globe.  ‘Make this brand and then start your marketing,’ he suggested.
I also requested the UNWTO official to enlist Bangladesh on the world tourist map as we are still out of it. I hope world tourist organisation will enlisted Bangladesh very soon.
It will help people across the globe know more about Bangladesh as a brand and our products. The government should also come forward to implement this idea.
Bangladesh Post: There is another tourist conference ahead that will be held in Bangladesh. How do you think that will helpful the industry?
Dalton Zahir: First of all, the guests around the world who will come here have to be informed about our tourism sector. A good number of foreign journalists will also come. The country’s tourism industry will be promoted through the news coverage made by them.
Bangladesh Post: In the recent days, we have seen hotel industries are growing.
Dalton Zahir: Growing and growth are not same. Some are establishing hotels. For growth, it’s important to make sustainable. Anyone can build a hotel, but the business environment has to built by the government with proper communication and ensuring adequate infrastructure facilities.
Besides, mass awareness should be created where people will be more functional.

News Source: http://www.thebangladeshpost.com/supplement/6753
Writer: Anwar Hossain

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