Bangladesh's high potential to grow event-based tourism, both regionally and nationally, remains untapped for lack of proper initiatives and required resources, industry insiders say.
Both the public and private sectors have the equal role to play in attracting domestic and foreign tourists centering various popular regional and national events which will contribute to the national economy in a greater way, they observe.
"Of course, there's a high potential to promote event-based tourism and attract more tourists," Chairperson of the Department of Tourism and Hospitality Management of Dhaka University Dr Mojib Uddin Ahamed told UNB.
Responding to a question, Dr Mojib said both the private and public sectors will have to work together and equally. "We need an effective coordination between the two sectors."
Taufiq Rahman, director of Tour Operators Association of Bangladesh (TOAB), also admitted that there has been no attention on event-based tourism despite having the potential.
"Fairs and festivals are a big tourism product for us. We can work on the products in a bigger way. It has potential," Taufiq, also the founder chief executive of Journey Plus, said.
The tour operator suggested proper events calendar and distribute it in various countries through Bangladesh missions abroad to let foreign tourists know about the events.
Talking to UNB, Bangladesh Tourism Board (BTB) CEO Akhtaruz Zaman Khan Kabir said they have developed a year-long event calendar considering potential of event-based tourism.
"We're emphasising both regional and national events," he said mentioning some of the potential arrears to attract domestic and foreign tourists like Pohela Baishakh, International Mother Language Day, Ekhushey Book Fair, national surfing in Cox's Bazar, beach volleyball and regional events like Jobbarer boli khela in Chittagong.
TOAB Director (Training and Research) M Masud Hossain said most of the fairs and festivals held in Bangladesh are not of international standard and there should be initiatives to make those events of high standard for attracting tourists from home and abroad.
He said Lalon Fair, boat race, Ratha-Yatra, a Hindu festival that involves transporting deities on a chariot, Rath Jatra and Kathin Chibor Dan could be potential international tourism products.
Masud Hossain said the Water Festival in Bangladesh is of very low quality compared to that in other countries like Thailand and Myanmar.
He also said the Ekhushey Book Fair and Pohela Baishakh are not of international standard as those events lack required ingredients of international standard for attracting international visitors.
International tourism propelled ahead in 2014 as the number of international tourists (overnight visitors) grew 4.4 percent with an additional 48 million more than in 2013, to reach a new record total of 1,135 million, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Annual Report 2014.
Tourism is one of the leading growth sectors in international services trade. While many factors influence tourism growth, one of the more perceptible contributions - at least, in the public eye - comes from global events, or mega-events.
The appeal of hosting a mega-event, or more specifically a mega-sporting event, has grown significantly over the last two decades. ? UNB