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Published on : Friday, December 16, 2016
Travel And Tour World spoke to Akhtaruz Zaman Khan Kabir, Chief Executive Officer, Bangladesh Tourism Board at the PATA New Tourism Frontiers Forum 2016 conducted in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Mr. Kabir speaks about the VisitBangladesh campaign and potential of Bangladesh as an international tourism destination.
Travel And Tour World: How successful is the VisitBangladesh campaign?
Akhtaruz Zaman Khan Kabir: Our Prime Minister unveiled the International Conference on Developing Sustainable and Inclusive Buddhist Heritage and Pilgrimage Circuits in Dhaka last year on 27th October. For the first time in the tourism history of Bangladesh, we are conducting the VisitBangladesh campaign this year. We are planning to continue this campaign for three years. This is the first year and therefore it is the take-off stage. Certain activities have been planned with an aim to make VisitBangladesh really successful, for instance, the PATA NTFF conference that is being conducted now.
In 2015, we had organized an International Beach Carnival in December in Cox’s Bazar. So yes, we are optimistic about the success of this campaign.
Travel And Tour World: How do you plan to develop marine tourism in Bangladesh?
Akhtaruz Zaman Khan Kabir: We have two strong USPs, one being the backwater tourism and second, Cox’s Bazar that is the world’s longest unbroken sandy beach running for up to 120 kilometres. In addition, we are planning to introduce exciting beach activities like the International Beach Competition and also to establish an international training academy for surfing. Hopefully they would come up next year.
Travel And Tour World: How would you preserve the regional historical heritage?
Akhtaruz Zaman Khan Kabir: The historical heritage of Bangladesh is amazing and so are its archaeological sites and tourism relics. Our archaeological department is taking care of these sites. We have a close communication network with archaeological department, as the Bangladesh Tourism Board and archaeological department have been working together to upgrade these sites. Our goal is to preserve, conserve and develop these unique sites.
Travel And Tour World: Do you think sustainable tourism has developed here in the last decade?
Akhtaruz Zaman Khan Kabir: Though sustainable tourism has not really developed here in the last decade, we are very conscious to protect our natural heritage and cultural sites. 2017 has been declared as the International Year of Sustainable Development, and therefore we are working towards attaining the goal of sustainable development. This would be achieved through planned activities and we are hopeful that this region would boast of sustainable tourism in the future.
Travel And Tour World: How can Bangladesh gain prominence in APAC as a major tourism destination?
Akhtaruz Zaman Khan Kabir: Currently, we are not developing our country as a single tourism destination, and are glancing at our neighbouring countries for a bit of guidance. This would enable us to derive an experience about how to develop our tourism product and make a statement in the international tourism market. This new experience would help us market our country as a single tourist destination in the near future.
Travel And Tour World: What are your strategies to protect tourists from the onslaught of natural calamities?
Akhtaruz Zaman Khan Kabir: The period between November and March marks the tourism season for our country, so this is a very crucial time. Because, this is the time when natural calamities tend to occur. So, we are trying to prepare ourselves to help tourists be safe from these types of natural calamities.
Travel And Tour World: What makes Bangladesh really special among Chinese tourists?
Akhtaruz Zaman Khan Kabir: China is one of the most important source markets for Bangladesh, speaking of the tourism industry. Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province of China is quite close to Bangladesh. Moreover, in 2017, Cox’s Bazar Airport is going to function as an international one, thereby directly connecting Kunming to Cox’s Bazar. Therefore, the duration of the flight between these two places would just be about 1 hour and 20 minutes. We are focusing on China, particularly on Yunnan to lure in more tourists to the sea so that they can taste out foods and ethnic culture. Every year, the Chinese tourists visiting Bangladesh is increasing.
Travel and Tour World: Please comment on the latest trends of Bangladesh tourism industry.
Akhtaruz Zaman Khan Kabir: Adventure tourism and backwater tourism are the main tourism products that we are focusing upon. Apart from these options, we are also trying to develop cruising facilities in our rivers.