Tourism Bangladesh is enriching with SAARC Tourism-On the formal action front

Tourism Bangladesh is enriching with SAARC Tourism-On the formal action front.Bangladesh is blessed with unique beauty from nature. Explore the various archaeological, historical and cultural sites of Bangladesh which will contribute towards an unparalleled travel experience to this part of the world. The main attractions of for tourists includes the famous Bangladeshi cuisine, beautifully hand crafted items, many serpentine rivers and green hills of Bangladesh. Get face to face with the famous Royal Bengal Tiger in this part of the world.

Bangladesh is one of the few countries in South Asia, offering plentiful green land with a rich and glorious history. Bangladesh possesses a prosperous culture and heritage. It is a land of delightful natural beauty with a chain of great rivers and clear lakes surrounded by green hills, exotic tropical rain forests and beautiful green tea gardens. Come and explore the world’s largest mangrove forest in Bangladesh, preserved as World Heritage and is also a home of the Royal Bengal tiger and wild life. Also visit world’s longest natural sea beach and the remains of ancient Buddhist civilization along with vibrant tribal life. So experience a perfect combination of adventure and beauty on your tour to Bangladesh.

The SAARC Leaders have always recognized the importance of tourism and emphasized the need to take measures for promoting tourism in the region. During the Second Summit, the Leaders underscored that concrete stepsshould be taken to facilitate tourism in the region. Tourism has been an important dimension of most of the subsequent Summits. At the Twelfth Summit held in Islamabad in January 2004, the Leaders were of the view that development of tourism within South Asia could bring economic,

social and cultural dividends. There is a need for increasing cooperation to jointly promote tourism with South Asia as well as to promote South Asiaas a tourism destination, inter alia, by improved air links, they stated in the Declaration. To achieve this and to commemorate the twentieth year of the establishment of SAARC, the year 2005 was designated by the Leaders as ?South Asia Tourism Year.? Member States were required to individually and jointly organize special events to celebrate it.

On the formal action front
The Working Group on Tourism was established by the Council of Ministers during its Twenty-fourth Session held in Islamabad in January 2004. This was done after a comprehensive review of the SAARC Integrated Programme of Action by the Standing Committee at its Fourth Special Session held in Kathmandu in August 2003. This intergovernmental process will compliment the endeavors by SAARC Chambers of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) Tourism Council, thus ensuring public?private partnership for the promotion of tourism.

The First Meeting of the Working Group on Tourism was held in Colombo on 16?17 August 2004. In addition to the SAARC Member States and representatives of the SAARC Secretariat, representatives of the SCCI Tourism Council and the ASEAN Secretariat also attended the Meeting. Besides reviewing the implementation of programme of activities relevant to its mandate, the Working Group made a number of recommendations for promotion of tourism in the SAARC region, for example, printing of a SAARC Travel Guide, production of a documentary movie on tourism in SAARC, promotion of sustainable development of Eco-Tourism, Cultural Tourism and Nature Tourism, collaboration in HRD in tourism sector by having programmes for exchange of teachers, students, teaching modules and materials, Promoting Cooperation in the fi eld of tourism with other relevant regional and international tourism organizations. It also proposed a number of activities to celebrate the South Asia Tourism Year?2005 in a befitting manner. When comparing the progress made on the ground and by otherregional tourism initiatives that began much later than SAARC?such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Pacifi c Tourism Commission, European Union (EU) Tourism, and the Mekong Tourism Initiative?progress must be classified, at best, as wanting.

With the backdrop of the frustration of SAARC?s underperformance, in 1997, a separate initiative was undertaken by several governments of the South Asian region, titled the South Asian Growth Quadrangle, consisting of Bangladesh; Bhutan; the north, east, and north-east states of India; and Nepal. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) supported the initiative under the South Asian Subregional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) programme, which includes a tourism component. This is an ongoing program me within the South Asian development framework of the ADB.

In addition, also in 1997, another initiative was created to link some of SAARC?s countries with Myanmar and Thailand, as the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), to take advantage of the historical link and turning them into economic opportunities. Named BIMSTEC to represent Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Thailand Economic Cooperation, it set up a Tourism Working Group and has conducted several rounds of meetings, but to date, it has not achieved much progress. Since 2005, the ADB has supported this initiative as well.

South Asia can indeed be described as a dichotomy. Although it has not lived up to expectations as a regional grouping, at the individual country level, tourism development in SAARC presents several unique models, containing some successful best practices.

Bhutan has presented a model of tourism development, in which its operations are based on the model of a kinked demand curve (Sen 2004)to create a premium value for the destination. Bhutan limits access to a few tens of thousands of tourists each year at a premium charge, placing the per capita yield from one tourist at a high level. Bhutan has a business model aimed at conserving its heritage, culture, and natural resources. This model is in keeping with its unique development indicator of ?Gross National Happiness,? in contrast to the conventional development measurement of gross national product.

Maldives, known today as one of the most successful island destinations in the world, works on a business model of establishing strong partnerships with foreign investors and tour operators. Beginning with investments from Sri Lankan conglomerates in the early 1980s (still accounting for about 20 percent of all hotel rooms), Maldives Tourism, offering the ?sunny side of life? as its positioning platform is driven by some of the best international and regional brand names in the island tourism business.

Nepal is an example of a pioneering brand of unique community based tourism initiative. With its early model of the Annapurna Tourism Development Project8 and the Bhakthipur Conservation Project9 of the 1980s, Nepal introduced a good tourism operational model, offering its unique nature and heritage conservation, community benefit, and sustainable funding features.

Sri Lanka is addressing the challenge of global warming and climate change faced by all nations of the world. It has extended its conventional position as a tourist destination of a treasured island with a warm people offering nature, culture, and adventure to include an extensive green cover. Through its Tourism Earth Lung initiative it is working toward being a carbon-neutral destination by 2018.

Extract from the World Bank Report on Promoting Economic Cooperation in South Asia.

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