Md. Ziaul Haque HowladarPublished:
2021-09-21 18:45:00 BdST
Tourism for Inclusive Growth
The global Tourism industry that witnesses a hardest hit by pandemic Covid- 19 has embarked on bounce back since the withdrawal of lockdown. Tourism industry owing to its innate nature can turn around smartly, if it gets a congenial environment.
The industry has embarked on thriving again in Bangladesh since the government decision for its reopening. At present, industry is witnessing a glimmer of hope especially due to the growing number of domestic tourists in Bangladesh.
According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), global tourism restarts to reimburse its financial losses and achieve gradual growth.
The designated theme of this year's World Tourism Day is ‘Tourism for Inclusive Growth’.
This year the theme is intimately intertwined to the second principle of Global Goal 2 (No Hunger), i.e. ‘Leave No One Behind’.
The essence of the theme is that no one will be deprived of his due benefits generating from tourism industry. Everyone will be able to make a livelihood by getting involved in this industry as per their own position, talents and skills. People irrespective of creed, race, castes, genders, professions and especially able and of all ages will have the equal opportunity to participate in tourism activities. No one can be kept away or paid less because of caste, religion and age, above all, under-privileged people.
The bottom line is that a country's tourism development plan must include universal and public welfare for all walks of people
Bangladesh has undertaken some plans and programmes in line with the theme. Some projects are being implemented underlining the designated theme of this year. It is well-known that Bangladesh has emphasized inclusive growth in its recently-formulated 8th 5-Year Plan, the perspective plan and in the Delta Plan underling the SDG targets. Bangladesh is committed to achieving SDGs by 2030.
Tourism has already been recognized by the United Nations as an important sector in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Achieving SDG 1 (poverty alleviation), 5 (gender equality), 8 (decent work and economic growth) and 10 (reduction of inequality) have linkages in multiple ways to the tourism industry. Tourism industry substantially can contribute to the achievement of every goal of the SDGs. Therefore, in order to ensure the welfare of all participation of the people in the implementation of the tourism project have to be undertaken. The views of the local people have to be taken into consideration. The sustainable use of local resources and optimal utilization of resources must be ensured among the local population. We must ensure benefit cascade down to all in the society.
Tourism development issue has to be linked and reflected in the presently being implemented election manifesto of the government – ‘Transforming villages into Towns. Recreational services need to be extended to the villages through development of tourism industry. We need to ensure participation and equal opportunities for all in the tourism industry. In addition, inclusiveness in tourism industry has to be ensured by protecting rural history-tradition-customs and especially the culture of all indigenous and ethnic groups.
Tourism is the fastest growing and single largest industry in the world today. According to the UNWTO, one out of every ten employed-people in the world is involved in the tourism industry. In other words, ten percent of the world's employed population is getting the opportunity to earn their livelihoods in the tourism industry. The participation of women worldwide in this industry has also notably increased. According to the Commonwealth statistics, one out of every four youth globally is involved in tourism activities. Tourism industry especially the domestic tourism is also booming as expected in Bangladesh. The tourism industry is primary industry of all industries. Because it is directly and indirectly associated with 220 sectors.
Tourist attractions are scattered in all districts and upazilas of Bangladesh. If we can offer proper packages of rural history, archaeology, folklore, traditional food, boat rides, local sports, traditional cakes etc as tourist attractions, then participation of all kinds of people in the tourism industry will be ensured. When this participation is tangibly ensured, we can say that Tourism for Inclusive Growth is taking place. Only the tourism industry can highlight the immense beauty of all kinds of history-tradition-perpetual Bangla of each district. The community tourism project has to be implemented in the whole country to present those to tourists.
All the 64 districts of Bangladesh possess their own unique features. Under the kind direction of the Hon'ble Prime Minister, each district administrations is branding own district portraying own uniqueness in collaboration with A2I. Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation has already identified 1700 tourist attractions across the country. Branding activities of these attractions will be carried out in phases through A2I. Given that tourism attractions are spread out all over Bangladesh, local people around these attractions or sites need to be motivated to engage and earn livelihood through tourism activities. Active participation of local people in tourism industry is sine-quo-non. As for instance, the active participation of people dwelling around Paharpur world heritage site at Badalgachi of Naogaon, Mahasthangarh of Shibganj in Bogura, Kantjeu Temple at Kaharul of Dinajpur, Sixty Dome Mosque under Bgaerhat and the Sundarbans in Satkhira and Khulna districts need to be encouraged to engage in various tourism activities for their livelihoods. The glaring activities may be tour guiding, preparing and selling of local food, exhibiting local handicrafts, organizing traditional cultural programmes and sports etc. We need to develop community based leadership (CBL) and community based organizations (CBO).
Tourism has been stagnant for the past one-and-a-half year due to pandemic Covid-19. Now tourism is seen reopening cautiously in Bangladesh as elsewhere in the world. Number of employment is gradually increasing and thus income is on upward trend. Inclusive tourism has to be underpinned in line with the SDGs so as benefits is trickled down to people of all ages, classes and ethnicities. We will be able to achieve SDGs by 2030, if we can undertake short-medium and long term tourism programmes focusing the equal participation and due benefit of all in the society.
The author is tourism researcher and essayist.
(This article written by Md. Ziaul Haque Howlader, Manager (PR and FL), Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation)
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