The recognition of the role of tourism in sustainable development and the emphasis placed in the SDGs on the development of public policies for sustainable tourism is a landmark breakthrough that provides a unique opportunity for all governments to create a sound and favourable policy foundation.
The first two years of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda have shown that countries are making headway in aligning national strategies, adapting institutional frameworks and adjusting policies to realize the SDGs.
The countries’ efforts have been reported in the Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs), presented by UN Member States during the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) in 2016 and 2017.
In Bangladesh’s Voluntary National Review 2017, tourism is reported as an opportunity for the government to enhance connectivity and build partnerships with neighbouring countries, especially with the construction and reconstruction of the 441 km rail line and the upgrades of airports in the country including Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport and Cox’s Bazaar Airport to an international.
In the report, it is mentioned that the government is also looking to promote ecotourism and expand its’ coastal and marine tourism in terms of activities, destinations, modes of travel, accommodations, amenities and overall philosophy. Bangladesh is planning to improve and overhaul its marine tourism by including luxury marine cruises to distant destinations and develop its marine policy, laws and regulation.
In 2014, Bangladesh’s Prime Minister embarked on the blue economy and it is now well-recognized as a new ‘development space’ in Bangladesh. Coastal tourism is identified as a key priority issues for the development of the blue economy.
However, despite the huge potential and recent developments, the report also highlighted that the tourism industry still remains locked in a ‘go-see-dine-sleep’ model. ‘Action tourism’ which includes climbing, surfing, diving etc is still non-existent.