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Behavioural insights for tourism informal workers in Bangladesh

Published : Tuesday, 17 May, 2022 at 12:00 AM  Count : 808
Md Anowar Hossain Bhuiyan

Behavioural insights for tourism informal workers in Bangladesh

Behavioural insights for tourism informal workers in Bangladesh

Bangladesh is going to emerge as a developing country in the world. Tourism is one of the promising economic sectors for Bangladesh. The government of Bangladesh (GOB) has declared tourism as a thrust sector to realize its importance as earning source and weapon for employment opportunities. This sector is contributing 4.4% of GDP and earned USD 1.21 billion in tourism receipts in 2018. Every year, about one million international tourists are visiting the country, and about 18 million domestic tourists are travelling to the different tourist spots of the country.   

Bangladesh is blessed with more than three thousand tourist spots including natural, built, and heritage sites. The country is a host of natural treasures such as beaches, lakes, rivers, hills, forests, wildlife, tribal life, archaeological remains, historical monuments, religious and cultural heritages, and handicrafts that offer great value for tourists' attractions. Some iconic tourism treasures are situated in this country which makes it a lucrative tourism destination in the world.

The mentionable iconic attractions are Cox's Bazar (longest unbroken sea beach in the world), Sundarbans (largest mangrove forest in the world), World Ijtema (the second largest gathering of Muslims), Kuakata sea beach (place to enjoy sunrise and sunset in the same place), historical memories (war cemetery, Shaheed Minar , war memorials ), Dhaka city (400-year old capital and city of the mosque), 2500 archaeological sites, 710 kilometres coastal areas, hilly areas (10% of land areas), about 700 rivers, 166 tea gardens, 54 ethnic community, 40 protected areas, and more than 200 migratory birds sites.

The GOB is developing three exclusive tourism zones based on the Bay-of-Bengal for the massive development of tourism activities in the country. Furthermore, GOB has implemented several communication infrastructure projects in the country to make easy access and ensure safe transportation facilities. These development initiatives will increase the demand for tourism activities in the country.

About 2.41 million workforces were engaged in the tourism sector of Bangladesh in 2018 which was 3.9% of total employment. According to the projection of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), the employment opportunity in the tourism sector will be reached 4 million by 2024 and occupy 4.3% of the total employment in the country. 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, attracting investment, enhancing social protection, and empowering the local communities.

Tourism can boost gender equity through various initiatives such as ensuring equitable opportunities for all, promoting women in tourism-related business and activities, and empowering women by involving them in tourism decision-making and management activities. Tourism can make job opportunities to reduce the unemployment problem by enhancing the informal job market, supplying skilled manpower, and promoting interlinked services. The informal job market is emerging in the tourist spots in Bangladesh for giving services to the tourists.

Informal workers are engaging in various self-employed jobs in different tourist spots in the country for their livelihood due to no other permanent employment opportunities. Most of these informal workers are less educated, have no training, and have minimum capital for their profession. The behavioural aspects of informal workers are important for tourism activities in the attractions due to their direct interaction with the tourists. The satisfaction and revisit intention of tourists are highly dependent on the behavioural insights of informal workers.

Cox's Bazar is known as the tourism capital of Bangladesh. Every year a remarkable number of tourists are visiting this place for enjoying the recreational facilities. The unbroken 120 kilometres of sandy sea beach is the main attraction of Cox's Bazar to attract tourists. More than 1000 informal beach workers are engaged in tourism-related income activities on this beach. The mentionable informal job activities on this beach are horse driver, beach photographer, flower seller, souvenir seller, street food shop, coffee seller, speedboat driver, homemade food seller, and open stall owners.

But the informal workers have no training and guidelines to conduct optimal behavioural performance with the tourists. The tourism stakeholders including tourists are emphasizing an acceptable level of behavioural performance from the informal beach workers for enhancing tourism activities. To realize this necessity, Bangladesh Tourism Board (BTB) and UNDP Accelerator Lab in Bangladesh have taken initiatives along with the Tourist Police of Cox's Bazar for increasing the capacities of informal beach workers regarding behavioural aspects. They arrange several training programs for the informal beach workers to provide practical knowledge, guidelines, and the necessity for acceptable behaviour with the related tourism stakeholders including tourists.

The main objectives of this training program are to change the behavioural patterns of informal workers to adapt to tourism activities, make proper interaction of informal workers with the tourism stakeholders including tourists, and improve the income means of informal workers to contribute to their livelihood security. The training program is highlighting various aspects like communication skills, attitude patterns, dress code, hygiene, safety, information gathering and team approach to improve the behavioural patterns of informal workers in the tourism sector.

Informal workers are playing a vital role through various services provided to the tourists in the tourist attractions in Bangladesh. The tourists are directly depending and interacting with the informal workers during their visit period in the attractions. So, it is necessary to maintain the behavioural insights of informal workers for an acceptable attitude with the tourism stakeholders including tourists. The training program can provide the necessary support to the informal workers regarding behavioural insights which ensure a tourism-friendly environment in Bangladesh.
Dr Md Anowar Hossain Bhuiyan teaches at National University, Bangladesh

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