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  Volume: XXIV, Issue No. 21 June 16-30, 2015  
  Lonely Planet's selection, Cricket World Cup offer golden opportunity for country's tourism
  Untitled Document

_By Raquib Siddiqi
Dhaka : The latest edition_ November 2010_ of Lonely Planet's highly-anticipated travel annual have the hottest trends, destinations and experiences for the year 2011. Full of fresh ideas for where to go and what to see, Best in Travel 2011 gives you the inspiration to get out and explore, near or far.

Lonely Planet, considered as one of the leading travel guidebooks in the world, has listed Bangladesh as the top among 10 "the Best Value Destination for 2011.? The other places in this list are : Nicaragua, Washington DC, Paris, Nami-bia, Philippines, Argentina, Naples, Ukraine and Syria.

But before that the government should take into cognisance of comments of frustration made by intending visitors. The following comment aptly expresses the disappointment at not being able to travel to this country :

An intending traveller wrote on January 5: "I had planned to go to Bangladesh in the Fall 2010 for conference on early childhood development. However, the price of the flight (I live in Vietnam. So, it's not like I was trying to fly from Europe or North America) and the visa for Americans made the entire trip unfeasible. Bangladesh maybe a 'Best Value Destination' but actually getting to the country is not. My favourite best value destinations are Indonesia and Myanmar."

The Lonely Planet list draws on the "knowledge, passion and miles travelled" by Lonely Planet staff, authors, and 600,000-strong online community to present the best places to go and things to do around the world to its readers.

Judging from recent editions of the list, it should not be perceived as one containing only 'cheap' destinations. Rather, the list is based on travellers "getting their money's worth." Last year's list included destinations like Iceland, London, Malaysia and Las Vegas.

Previously, Bangladesh had been named as one of the 10 Interesting Destinations 2009, where it was described as "a revelation that actually leaves cousin India looking a bit worse for wear."

Best in Travel 2011 includes seventeen 'Top 10' lists, covering standard topics like the best cities, best experiences, as well as quirky ones like 'Top 10 countries that didn't exist twenty years ago.'

Owned by BBC World-wide, Lonely Planet is the largest travel guidebook and digital media publisher in the world.

"Worried that the economy might put a crimp in your travel plans in 2011? Never fear : Travel doesn't have to break the bank. Your currency may be depressed, but that doesn't mean you have to be; there are still many destinations around the world that can be enjoyed on the cheap. If you let the global economic ups-and-downs work to your advantage, adopt some personal austerity measures in pricier destinations, and head towards up-and-coming destinations, you can stay on the road longer for less", Lonely Planet said.

About Bangladesh, the Lonely Planet said that this sub-continental treat might just be the cheapest place on earth to travel. Bangladesh offers marvellous meals for under US$1, a mid-range hotel room for less than 10 times that. This means that anyone who isn't a masochist goes up a price bracket or two. You'll pay a little more to get around the Sunderbans National Park on a tiger-spotting tour_ US$150 or thereabouts_ but it's still peanuts, even compared to what you pay next door in India.

Bangladesh is almost disgracefully undervisited. Here, paddleboat is one of the main forms of transport and you can trek, canoe and even surf to your heart's content with some of the world's friendliest people for company. The Rocket is Bangladesh's most famous visited, running daily between the capital Dhaka and Khulna. First-class river cruising for 27 hours will cost US$15, the Lonely Planet added.

Every few years Lonely Planet also publishes travel guidebooks on individual countries. The last edition on Bangladesh was published in 2008 in which "Bangladesh was described as a can-do country of open-hearted people, tigers, tea plantations and the world's longest beach." It also paid tribute to the country's quick recoveries after natural disasters many times. Lonely Planet introduced Bangladesh in their website as "a trend-setting, breathtaking and hardworking cou-ntry that others can learn from".

Almost every country that receives a positive treatment across any of the Lonely Planet platforms experiences a subsequent boost in tourism, and "Best-Value Destinations" is one of the most popular lists in the travel annual, closely followed by backpackers, students and other budget-travellers.

Cricket World Cup
This positive exposure of Bangladesh by highly valued Lonely Planet has come when for the first time Bangladesh is going to host international sporting event like Cricket World Cup. The World Cup 2011, hosted jointly by Bangla-desh, India and Sri Lanka, will be held from February 19 to April 2. Matches will be held in Bangladesh cities of Dhaka and Chittagong; Indian cities of Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chen-nai, Kolkata, Moha-li, Mumbai, Nagpur and New Delhi and Colombo, Hamban-tota, Kandy of Sri Lanka.

The Cricket World Cup 2011 is in the threshold of opening and host nations of Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka are ready for the spectacle. These three countries hope to attract visitors from all over the world and expect the magnificent cricket carnival to offer a spurt to the tourism industry across the region. Holidays to these countries are much in demand.

The venues are well spaced out and the matches schedule is convenient. This provides an ample amount of time for sightseeing to visitors. The great cricket spectacle will provide an opportunity and excuse to thousands of spectators to explore and marvel at the various splendours and wonders of each of three countries.

Bangladesh is a captivating place and yet unexplored country that has the capacity to hold a special place in the world of tourism on the basis of its beauty and diversity. If the thrill of cricket matches drains you out, turn to Bangladesh's colourful landscapes, grand sites, picturesque countryside, stunning beaches, rich cultures, and lively people to refresh and rejuvenate you on holidays to Bangladesh.

Bangladesh is indeed a beautiful country that is has some of the most incredible eco-tourism destinations. Travel-lers to the country are welcomed by lovely beauty of the region and a dash of modernity in predominantly rural surroundings.

Bangladesh features wildlife reserves, impressive historical relics, pristine beaches and striking mangrove forest-largest in the world.

Dhaka, nation's dazzling capital, shimmers with an array of shopping malls. The food in the city is multiethnic and is influenced by various cultures and nationalities.

Be it engro-ssing cricket matches, shopping sprees in luxurious and modest marketplaces, or charming boat safaris, a tour to Bangladesh during the world cup will definitely keep one happily occupied.

The opening ceremony of the 2011 Cricket World Cup will be held on February 17 at Bangabandhu National Stadi-um, Dhaka. The country will also host eight matches including two quarterfinals in Dhaka and Chittagong. This will surely cast a limelight on the country and provide an opportunity to bolster its image as an attractive tourist destination.

Sports Tourism
Sports tourism refers to international trips specifically taken to watch sporting events. Common examples include international events such as world cups (soccer, rugby, cricket, etc), the Olympics and Formula 1Grand Prix, regional events (such as the soccer European Champions League), and individual (non-team) participant sports such as tennis, golf and horse racing.

In 2008 the world's travel and tourism generated approximately US$5,890 billion of economic activity. With the contribution of travel and tourism to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) expected to rise from 9.9 per cent in 2008 to 10.5 per cent by 2018, the next decade will see tourism revenues exceeding US$10,000 billion.

Sport tourism is at the heart of this growth and as the fastest growing sector in the global travel and tourism industry, accounted in 2008 for an astonishing US$600 billion or +10 per cent of the international tourism market.

Tourists engaged in sports tourism are high-spending, stay longer than other tourist categories, are high-calibre and often stimulate other tourism. Their direct benefit to a destination is cash - their indirect benefit can be years of follow-on tourists.

Estimate of Global Market Size
The most popular global sporting events are the soccer FIFA World Cup and the Olympics, followed by the European Football Champi-onships. However, other popular sporting events also attract a large number of international visitors. These include the Cricket World Cup and Formula 1 Grand Prix.

The 2007 Cricket World Cup staged in the Caribbean was thought to have generated an additional 100,000 visitors who travelled specifically for the tournament.

Whilst the number of sports tourists fluctuates on an annual basis depending on the events taking place (it is greatest during FIFA World Cup and Olympics years), on average an estimated 12 million international trips are made for the main purpose of watching a sporting event.

There are many reasons for the sport tourism boom. The continued sportification of society is prompting a seismic shift in tourist patterns. The 21st Century is witnessing traditional sun and sea vacations_ traditionally the main stay of the travel and tourism industry_ being replaced by activity sport related vacations and a new breed of tourists keen to attend an ever increasing calendar of readily-accessible mega sporting events.

A recent study by commissioned by the Brazilian government, showed that the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio will provide a boost of more than $24 billion from 2010 until 2027.

Sport tourism_ for many years the "sleeping giant" of travel_ is set to play a catalytic role in sparking global tourism recovery in 2010 and beyond.
Sport tourism is now a tool to make and achieve many things - to generate significant revenues, create thousands of new jobs, regenerate urban infrastructure, and to develop or reappraise entire destinations.

The Cricket World Cup 2011 has provided Bangladesh_ which over the years has acquired negative image due to decades of bad press and total absence of image building effort by National Tourism Organisation_ once-in-a-lifetime chance to showcase the best we have as a tourism destination. This has given the country a huge opportunity to showcase itself in the global arena.

This is also a golden opportunity to portray Bangladesh positively to outside world with campaign by focusing the attractions of the country. Bangladesh could follow the Sri Lankan approach to attract travellers and spectators to Bangladesh and encourage them to take their holidays and explore this beauty rich country.

India and Sri Lanka co-hosting the Cricket World Cup in 2011 are making all efforts to attract as many additional visitors as possible. Sri Lanka Tourism is aggressively promoting infrastructural development to host officials, players, and spectators in Hambantota. Sri Lanka Tourism is also offering several World Cup related packages that includes tickets to cricket matches as well as a country tour.

But what Bangladesh has done so far or doing in this regard? Frankly we do not know. At least nothing is visible.

It seems Bangladesh is ill prepared to fully capitalise the opportunity that Lonely Planet's exposure and Cricket World Cup will be providing. The major challenge would be the shortage of hotel rooms. The authorities have hardly made any effort to address the accommodation need of the additional visitors expected during the Cricket World Cup.
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