Tourism experts at a programme said here different organisations and associations around the world have been debating on the issue of reviewing issuance of travel alert to protect their citizens during any unwanted incident hurting the entire economic and social life of tourist destinations.
They also noted that Cox’s Bazar is going to be another success story of Asia like other beach destinations including Phuket, Pattaya, Langkawi with all its vast natural and pristine resources as Asia is the new frontier in tourism industry. But Bangladesh has a long way ahead to become a lucrative travel destination.
They suggested Bangladesh to plan on developing infrastructure, facilities and services to attract more tourists and start telling positive stories to the world.
The observations came at a two-day international conference titled ‘PATA New Tourism Frontiers Forum 2016, Designing A Sustainable Tourism Brand: An Integrated Approach to Building Responsible Coastal Destination’ at Cox’s Bazar that started on 24th.
Bangladesh Tourism Board (BTB) with support of Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) organised the event at Royal Tulip Sea Pearl Beach Resort and spa.
Tourism now contributes 10 per cent of the global GDP and over 30 per cent of the trade and service industry.
While answering a question regarding issuance of travel alert after various terrorist incidents in Bangladesh, PATA chief executive officer Mario Hardy said Bangladesh is not unique in any particular event. Many countries have been facing such unfortunate situations.
Expressing his worries about issuance system of the red or orange alerts by the various governments during the time of any accident, he said if any single street is affected by a incident, the whole country becomes affected. Some governments around the world issue red or orange alerts for months which means if their citizens travel to those destinations they are not covered by insurance which discourage the travellers from visiting the country, he added.
UN World Tourism Organisation, World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) and PATA have been trying to advocate the governments and head of states to review the travel alerts policy to save the economies of the tourist destinations.
“It is not an easy process as tourism department is controlled by other departments,” he said.
UNWTO regional director for Asia and the Pacific Xu Jing said every national government has the right to issue travel advices to protect or defend their citizens. But UNWTO try to advocate and try their efforts to influence the frontliners working in the consular offices that by saying not to forget the destination level whose economies and social life may be hurt if there is any mistake when it comes to geo-reference system.
He said UNWTO has the geo-reference mechanism to inform the governments and industries if any incident takes place in any particular area of a country. For that UNWTO has a global taskforce to overcome travel alert related problem in the tourism industry, he added.
PATA chairman Andrew Jones said NTFF shines spotlight on new and emerging destinations introducing delegates to relatively unexplored yet attractive corner of the world.
“We often find that the most interesting and unique destinations are located in areas which are sometimes most challenging to access. Unfortunately poverty in those areas is widespread,” he said.
Cox’s Bazar has the longest beach and unique life of the ethnic minority groups in the neighbouring hills, he said.
The industry’s challenge is to manage evolution of the assets into attractive marketable, tourism products maximising social and economic benefits and minimising any negative effect, said Mr Andrew.
Xu Jing said Bangladesh is certainly going through upward trend although recently going through some negative impact that affecting the healthy development of tourism industry.
“Tourism is not only economically important but also for social agenda as it generates one in every 11 jobs and these are decent ones,” he said.
Cox’s Bazar has distinguished features like distinct and almost untouched nature and other culture related heritage, history which will clear the way for making another success story for Bangladesh.
Rashed Khan Menon said the government with the help of international travel and tourism organisations have been organising various international events to introduce various known/unknown tourist destinations of Bangladesh to the international community.
Travellers will be able to come directly Cox’s Bazar once the airport and rail link is established by 2018 enabling it to compete with other beach destinations.
“We are not targeting American or European tourists rather the South and South East Asian nations tourists to move forward,” he said.
The two-day event brought together 242 delegates from 17 nations, private tour operators and other stakeholders of the travel and tourism industry, students and media.