Travel And Tour World spoke to Shahid Hamid FIH, Chairman, Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Bangladesh Chapter and Executive Director, Dhaka Regency Hotel & Resort at the PATA New Tourism Frontiers Forum 2016 conducted in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Mr. Hamid shared his views about the challenges faced by the Bangladesh tourism industry and how this country can develop sustainable tourism.
Travel And Tour World: How successful is the VisitBangladesh 2016 campaign?
Shahid Hamid: To be honest, BTB (Bangladesh Tourism Board) had kick-started the VisitBangladesh campaign. And thereafter, we had some unfortunate incidents. Therefore, I would say it could have been better, as it did not produce the expected results.
Travel And Tour World: Do you think that the tourism industry of Bangladesh is facing some challenges now?
Shahid Hamid: I guess the tourism industry all across the world has been facing certain challenges owing to terrorism activities and Bangladesh is no exception. But then, one day the challenges would be overcome as it is a part and parcel of the tourism industry. And also, these things keep happening elsewhere. So, overall, we see a bright future.
Travel And Tour World: Do you have any special plans to protect tourists during natural calamities?
Shahid Hamid: Well, at present there are certain international communities who are extending all sorts of donations and assistance in order to make way for new measures that would enable us to protect tourists during natural calamities.
Travel And Tour World: How would you promote sustainable tourism in this part of the world?
Shahid Hamid: Worldwide, cities are developed because of corporate clients and businesses. However, in order to make tourism sustainable, we need to go to destinations that are untapped and completely unknown. We need to make sure that that shopowners, suppliers, associates and investors are all benefitted and only then would we be able to make tourism more sustainable.
Travel And Tour World: How do you plan to conserve the historical heritage?
Shahid Hamid: Mahasthangarh in Bogra District has been announced as the archaeological capital of SAARC. So, all kinds of efforts are being undertaken by the government to preserve the archaeological sites of Bangladesh.
Travel And Tour World: What kind of regional handicrafts are favored by international tourists?
Shahid Hamid: Our food, culture and festivities are all very popular among tourists and of course the ‘Dhakai Jamdani’, too is very special. But then, it is again untapped and gets less international attention because of inadequate branding and marketing options.
Travel And Tour World: Do you plan to introduce the concept of homestays in this country?
Shahid Hamid: As a matter of fact, homestays have already started in Bangladesh. Some of our tour operators have already started experimenting with it. And, steps are being undertaken to involve the indigenous people in this concept as it is a great idea! Involving the local communities would help them earn a certain amount of money. Moreover, it would promise great diversity for international travellers who would be capable of sharing the same culture and same food with the local inhabitants of Bangladesh.