BTB to organise more Fam trips for foreign journalists, tour operators
_A Monitor Report
Dhaka : Bangladesh Tourism Board (BTB) has for the first time taken a laudable initiative to bring journalists and tour operators from tourist generating countries on a Fam trip of Bangladesh which is expected not only to raise the number of visitors to Bangladesh but also to help enhance the image of the country abroad.
"This group of 15 is only the start. We hope to bring more journalists and tour operators from tourist generating countries on familiarisation tours and take them around different spots of the country. Like this group, the groups coming in the future will have fruitful interaction with their local counterparts," hoped Akhtaruz Zaman Khan Kabir, Chief Executive Officer, BTB.
"This will not only help attract tourists from those countries but also raise the country's image abroad, he added.
The first group of 15 journalists, travel writers, documentary makers and tour operators_ six from Japan, six from Spain and three from Germany_ visited Bangla-desh from June 16 to 23.
Members of the FAM group were taken around the city on June 16, their first day in Bangladesh. On June 17 they headed for Tangail where they saw villages, handloom weaving and witnessed cultural function by local artistes.
Heading for Bogra they then visited Paharpur Bouddha Vihara, Mahasthangarh, sericulture factories in Rajshahi, mango groves, Puthia Rajbari, Shiva Temple. They visited Sundarbans and Shat Gumbad Mosque at Bagerhat.
The group returned to Dhaka on June 21. On June 22 they were taken to Savar National Memorial and also shown pottery, bronze and brass handicraft making.
Members of the group from Japan left on June 22 night while those from Spain and Germany left on June 23 morning.
Yuuki Takahashi, journalist working in Kanagawa Shimbun newspaper, speaking to The Bangladesh Monitor, called for improvement of infrastructure specially roads connecting the main cities as well as different tourist spots.
Accommodation in villages needs to be upgraded "to help visitors spend their time slowly in the great nature," he opined and called for raising service standards.
"It would be useful to supply items to assist visitors to deliver the experiences they get, for instance, picture postcards should be available in the sightseeing areas," he said, adding "what is critical is to utilise the power of the private sector."
Higashimoto Keiko, Sales Manager, Friend Travel Agency Co Ltd, which handles Japanese tourists visiting China, India, Malaysia and Europe, said, "India is an exciting place. Com-pared to India, Bangladesh is very soft. I'll bring older Japanese tourists to Bangladesh as young people (of Japan) will not prefer this country."
"We heard 'Azaan' at Shat Gumbad mosque. It was beautiful?, Keiko said, adding Bogra was another place she liked very much.
She was overwhelmed with the hospitality provided at different places. She said, "It was from the heart."
Keiko, speaking from a tour operator's point of view said facilities here, transports and movement along roads were okay, but she was unhappy about a Khulna hotel where "the elevator was slow and the restaurant dark."
Her discussions with her counterparts in Bangladesh were fruitful, she said.
The visiting group of journalists and tour operators praised the Ministry of Tourism, specially Bangla-desh Tourism Board and looked forward "to the growth of tourism industry and prosperity of Bangladesh."