During the weekend, a colleague who is working here in Bangladesh for some time, went to the sea in southeastern Cox’s Bazar with his family. “A great relief after the countrywide blockade and anti-government movement and this is for the first time that I have travelled outside the capital with my family,” as he said. He is from Uzbekistan and a very pious Muslim in his early 50s.
We are habituated with the cynicism that Bangladesh’s tourism industry offers nothing that foreign tourists look for and the scenario needs a change to attract them. Nothing has changed that much but my colleague today gave me a fresh food for thought.
Synopsis of what my colleague told me:
- I am very happy to visit Cox’s Bazar with my family. It was a relaxing experience.
- I went to Bangkok and the sea beach there is beautiful. It’s beautiful here too as the beach is wide and very long.
- In Bangkok, I would not feel comfortable to take my children to the sea beach. I don’t mind personally what many of the tourists do there (munching and so on) but I will prefer not to visit the sea beach with my mother or my daughter. Here in Bangladesh, I was totally comfortable to visit the beach with my children. No public nuisance was that bothered me. There are few things that one can ignore easily.
- On the way to the beach and here and there, you will find thousands of used condoms and beer bottle and so on. I did not feel comfortable to see those stuffs. Here in Bangladesh, there are things like water bottle, chips packet etc. but no condom or beer bottle.
- For Halal food, I had to think a lot and ask a lot in restaurants in Bangkok. Here I did not need to ask anyone as I know the practice here.
I went to Cox’s Bazar for couple of times in the last eight months and people say local tourists are now the main income source. Some people argue that introducing alcoholic drinks will pave the way for attracting foreign tourist. But many tourist also looks for sex tourism and the question is whether Bangladesh’s tourism spots should become a sex tourism destination.
So branding Bangladesh with its decency, beauty and unique cultural identity for those who look for it can be an option.