Young people in Bangladesh are increasingly joining the country’s largely untapped tourism sector upon graduation from higher education instead of chasing public and private jobs.
They are discovering new places and making them popular for serving the growing number of people with disposable income.
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Many have built resorts, restaurants and pleasure craft in various parts of the country by investing, creating jobs for others.
One of them is Imranul Alam.
He started touring with friends in 2009, while still studying at undergraduate level in Dhaka.
Alam started a tour operator business, albeit on Facebook, five years later with three friends after completing his Masters in Japanese Studies at Dhaka University. They had hardly any money.
“Experience was our only capital with mental strength,” recalls the 33-year-old.
In 2016, they formalized the company after gaining experience and named it Tour Group Bangladesh.
Now the company is worth around Tk 4-5 crore and around 100 people are employed.
The group owns resorts and restaurants, built on leased land in the Sundarbans, St Martin’s Island, Sajek in Rangamati, Cox’s Bazar, Bandarban, Sreemangal and Tanguar haor in Sunamganj.
It operates cruise ships in the Sundarbans, boats in Tanguar haor and a car rental business in Bandarban.
“We do tours inside and outside the country. We have lots of touring opportunities in Asia,” Alam said.
Alam and his friends are not alone.
Many young people have made a foray into the tourism segment in recent years as it offers enormous business potential as people in droves have started to explore the country through increased purchasing power and a system of tourism. relatively good communication.
The tourism sector’s contribution to gross domestic product is estimated at 3.02 percent, or about Tk 77,000 crore, according to the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics.
The sector accounts for 8.07 percent of total employment. Domestic tourists spent around Tk 74,959 crore in 2018-19.
“When we started, young people did not come in droves to the tourism sector. The situation is changing.”
Over the years, many of them have become entrepreneurs, organizing tours locally and abroad.
The Bangladesh Online Travelers Association and Bangladesh Online Travelers Association, two tour operator platforms, have around 300 members and each has a travel agency.
Mainul Islam Raju, owner of Diganta Travel Freak, a tour operator, started his business in 2018.
He rented a chalet in Sajek in 2019 and three other resorts on the island of Saint-Martin and bought eight katha of land on the island.
By organizing tours, she started to make a profit of around Tk 20,000 per month. In 2019, it rose to 35,000 Tk.
This prompted him to rent an office in Khilgaon of Dhaka. But he was forced to shut it down after the coronavirus pandemic brought disaster to the tourism industry.
When the pandemic subsided in 2020, he started sharing an office with another person in Paltan. It became profitable again from September 2020.
He also built a barge in Tanguar haor.
“We organize tours inside and outside the country,” said Raju, who has invested around Tk 15 lakh in the company.
Now he plans to start a travel accessories store.
Ataul Islam Masum, founder of the Facebook-based group “Hit the Trail”, started leading tours professionally from 2018. He owns a complex in Remakri, where he has invested around 10 lakh Tk.
Barges will be built in Tanguar haor this year and around 15 lakh of Tk would be needed as an investment, he said. His monthly income is now Tk 50,000-60,000.
Mr. Badruzzaman Bhuiyan, chairman of the tourism and hospitality management department at Dhaka University, says the tourism sector is doing well despite various challenges.
Now the Bangladesh Tourism Board (BTB) or the Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation should guide these young people, he said.
“This is because if you have a tutor, you will be able to tap into the potential of the tourism sector.”
About two years ago, there were 40-50 lakh of tourists in Bangladesh. The number has risen to 2 crores, said Jabed Ahmed, director general of the BTB.
“As a result, it has become a huge market. As the number of tourists increases, it also becomes an attractive place for investors.”