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Why Visit Bangladesh?

Royal Bengal Tiger

Royal Bengal Tiger

While domestic tourism has increased in recent years, the number of foreign tourists visiting Bangladesh continues to be much lower than neighbouring countries. Back in 2009, I asked Mikey Leung, author of the Bradt Guide to Bangladesh, about what makes a foreign tourist decide to visit Bangladesh. He said the vast majority of tourists he had met came here for two reasons: they already had a family member or close friend working here, for example in a foreign organization or embassy, or they were passing through Bangladesh on the way to a neighbouring country and making a “stopover” holiday.

In other words, back then, few tourists decided to come to Bangladesh purely for the sake of seeing Bangladesh.

Recently the question resurfaced in my mind when I went to Sundarban aboard the M.V. Bhela on an activity-filled trip offered by Bengal Tours. In our group were several foreign tourists. I asked them why they had chosen to visit Bangladesh.

Marie and Brad, teachers from England and Ireland respectively, said they liked to visit unusual countries. They had originally targeted Myanmar for their holiday, but upon research realized that it would take longer than the six days they had to explore that country. So they decided to visit Bangladesh instead.

Mathias from Germany, travelling with his girlfriend, said they like to take an annual vacation to a non-touristy country. They found people in off-the-beaten-track countries were more approachable and friendly and one could get to know them better. Thus Bangladesh came up as a choice.

Ingrid from Sweden has travelled to India for several decades. Recently she decided to travel to the countries neighbouring India. After visiting Nepal and Bhutan, she decided to come here. She also mentioned that in her country, travel agents do not offer Bangladesh as a touring option, but they offer tours to Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, and so on. Thus all but the most adventurous tourists were left out.

Jerry from Ireland has been backpacking around Bangladesh for two weeks. He was drawn here because of the non-touristy reputation. He discussed some budget details leading me to believe that it is possible for a backpacking tourist to get by here on less than BDT1000 per day for room and food.

What were some positive comments about Bangladesh? Everyone ranked the warmth and friendliness of our people very high. Several people mentioned the food as being superior to neighbouring countries – especially after the meals on board. And of course Sundarban stole everyone’s heart.

The most common problem foreigners faced was travelling by public transportation. They are here for a limited time and it takes too long to go from one town to another. For example, although the Sundarban tour was really three days long, it takes five days starting from and returning to Dhaka.

I went to Sundarban after four years and found it to be as enchanting as ever. The tour company had planned a busy schedule, making the most of the daylight hours, and enabling us to see a variety of wildlife and birds. Despite unexpected foggy spells, all activities proceeded as planned, with many wildlife sightings. Even without a tiger sighting, Sundarban in my opinion is the best place to visit in Bangladesh.

Source : The daily star

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