World Tourism Day 2021
Tourism for inclusive growth in Bangladesh
World Tourism Day (WTD) is observed on 27 September every year by the member countries of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO). The theme of this day for the year 2021 is 'Tourism for Inclusive Growth'. This theme is suitable and expressive for the COVID-19 pandemic situation when tourism is one of the largest affected sectors worldwide. The member countries of UNWTO are celebrating the day this year to identify the potential opportunities through tourism to achieve inclusive growth.
Tourism is the third-largest economic sector in the world following petroleum and manufacturing. This sector contributes around 10.4% of the global GDP and generates one job in every 10 jobs globally. It is predicted that one-third of the technical jobs of the globe will be captured by the tourism sector by the year 2030.
Inclusive growth is one of the equitable economic growth, where opportunities are created for all portions of the society and benefits are distributed fairly among them. Inclusive growth is a multidimensional concept related to poverty reduction, equity in social and regional development, gathering benefits, labour-intensive initiatives, environment-friendly production process, equitable access to basic needs, and increase productivity. This growth involves the inclusion of all related stakeholders including business communities to ensure proper distribution of opportunities among all.
This growth is related to the four goals of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) namely SDG-1: no poverty, SDG-5: gender equality, SDG-8: decent work and economic growth, and SDG-10: reduce inequalities. Some indicators are referring to inclusive growth such as growth and productive employment, economic infrastructure, gender equity, income poverty, human capability, and social protection.
The development experts are considering tourism as one of the weapons for achieving inclusive growth in society. Tourism can ensure equitable development of the society. It also can reach all marginal groups of society and foster their economic and social well-being. Tourism is able to provide decent jobs, build resilience, gender equity, economic and social well-being, as well as sustainable development. Tourism can ensure growth in terms of inclusive decision-making, sustainable enhancement, achieve SDGs, transformation, integration, conserve biodiversity, and cultural integrity.
Bangladesh is the fullness of tourist treasures such as beaches, lakes, rivers, hills, forests, wildlife, tribal life, archaeological remains, historical monuments, religious and cultural heritages, handicrafts that offers great value for tourist attractions. The tourist treasures have developed Bangladesh as a suitable travel destination for visitors from home and abroad. The country can attract around one million foreign tourists and about 10-13 million domestic tourists every year. Recently, Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation (BPC) handed over the list of 800 potential spots to the government for developing tourism facilities to attract tourists.
The Government of Bangladesh is developing three exclusive tourism zones based on the Bay-of-Bengal for the massive development of tourism activities in the country. Moreover, the government has facilitated the investors to develop 100 exclusive economic zones in the different parts of the country. These development initiatives will increase the demand for tourism activities in the country. Tourism initiatives will be creating economic activities in the country like employment opportunities, generating income, earning revenue, creating an investment, and infrastructure development.
Tourism development can ensure inclusive growth as well as SDGs achievement in Bangladesh. This sector can be contributing to SDGs achievement through various positive impacts. According to the statistics of 2019, the poverty rate in the country is around 20.5%. Tourism can contribute to reducing poverty in the country through employment creation, human resource development, attract investment, enhance social protection, and empowering the local communities. Bangladesh has ranked 50th among the 153 countries in the Global Gender Gap Index in 2019.
Tourism can enhance gender equity through various initiatives such as ensuring equitable opportunities for all, promote women in tourism-related business and activities and empower women by involving them in tourism decision-making and management activities. The unemployment rate in the country is closer to 5%. Tourism can make job opportunities to reduce the unemployment problem through enhancing the informal job market, supply skilled manpower, and promote interlinked services. Tourism also contributes to reducing inequality in the country through fostering tourist accessibility and participation for all, introduce suitable tourism packages, and implement tourism-friendly management and governance.
Several policy initiatives are necessary to ensure inclusive growth through tourism in Bangladesh. Firstly, proper preservation and consumption of tourism resources of the country to attract the tourists from home and abroad is necessary. Secondly, focus on tourism-related works to ensure productivity, progression, and better enhancement. Thirdly, invest in tourism entrepreneurship to foster employment opportunities and youth dividends. Fourthly, ensure proper and effective participation of all marginal groups of society especially women, rural communities, and indigenous people in tourism activities. Fifthly, facilitate technical and vocation education and training in tourism to fulfil the demand for skilled and qualified manpower in this sector. Sixthly, promote the private sectors in tourism investment to enhance employment, innovation, productivity, and efficiency.
Finally, improving institutional capacity and governance systems are essential for tourism development in the country to ensure benefits for all relevant stakeholders and society.
Dr Md Anowar Hossain Bhuiyan teaches at National