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WTO Working Papers

WTO working papers usually represent research in progress. Such research may be conducted in the preparation of WTO Secretariat reports, studies or other material for WTO members. The papers are circulated for comment because the WTO considers critical review of professional research to be extremely important.

English

Achieving Bangladesh’s Tourism Potential

Linkages to Export Diversification, Employment Generation and the “Green Economy”

Bangladesh's international image is not as a popular tourism destination, and many people might be surprised to learn it has three World Heritage sites, including the Sundarbans tiger reserves. Moreover, it is part of important travel circuits for cultural and religious tourism, and has demonstrated potential for sports tourism. The objective of this working paper is to critically test the assertion that pro-poor "green" tourism is one of the best development options for the majority of least developed countries (LDCs) -- a challenging task in Bangladesh in the face of the country's success as an exporter of readymade garments -- by comparing tourism to the available alternatives with regard to the crucial government priorities of export diversification, employment generation and the "green economy". It is well-known that Bangladesh is under strong pressure to diversify its exports, to generate new employment (especially in rural areas), and to respond to critical environmental issues. The government has identified over 30 "thrust sectors" (including tourism) to help address these challenges, but otherwise tourism is rarely mentioned as a major trade and development option for Bangladesh. Within the limitations of data availability, this working paper reaches the conclusion that greater efforts to develop "green" tourism would be highly beneficial for facilitating rural development, environmental and cultural protection, gender equality, and export diversification in services. The most obvious current impediments are inadequate infrastructure, lack of investment and (typically election year) political conflict, but behind these factors appear to be a serious lack of stakeholder coordination, insufficient regulatory and administrative transparency and coherence, as well as some government reluctance to relinquish greater commercial autonomy in tourism to the private sector. This paper offers extensive analysis and some suggestions to help address the impediments, including the recommendation to create a Bangladesh Tourism Stakeholders Forum.

English

Keywords: GATS, Bangladesh, Poverty Alleviation, Spatial Diversification, Rio+20, Tourism Linkages, Green Economy, Green Tourism, Employment Generation, Gender Issues, Value Chain Analysis, Comparative Advantage, LDCs, FDI, Rural Development, Export Diversification, Istanbul Programme of Action (IPoA), Pro-poor Tourism, Cluster Analysis, MDGs
JEL: L83: Industrial Organization / Industry Studies: Services / Sports; Gambling; Restaurants; Recreation; Tourism; J24: Labor and Demographic Economics / Demand and Supply of Labor / Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity; I38: Health, Education, and Welfare / Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty / Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty: Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs; Q56: Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics / Environmental Economics / Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth; J16: Labor and Demographic Economics / Demographic Economics / Economics of Gender; Non-labor Discrimination; Q26: Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics / Renewable Resources and Conservation / Recreational Aspects of Natural Resources; J21: Labor and Demographic Economics / Demand and Supply of Labor / Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure; Q54: Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics / Environmental Economics / Climate; Natural Disasters and Their Management; Global Warming; H54: Public Economics / National Government Expenditures and Related Policies / National Government Expenditures and Related Policies: Infrastructures; Other Public Investment and Capital Stock; O14: Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth / Economic Development / Industrialization; Manufacturing and Service Industries; Choice of Technology; H77: Public Economics / State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations / Intergovernmental Relations; Federalism; Secession; L52: Industrial Organization / Regulation and Industrial Policy / Industrial Policy; Sectoral Planning Methods; F63: International Economics / Economic Impacts of Globalization / Economic Impacts of Globalization: Economic Development; O19: Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth / Economic Development / International Linkages to Development; Role of International Organizations; F13: International Economics / Trade / Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations; P45: Economic Systems / Other Economic Systems / Other Economic Systems: International Trade, Finance, Investment and Aid; O24: Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth / Development Planning and Policy / Development Planning and Policy: Trade Policy; Factor Movement; Foreign Exchange Policy; F18: International Economics / Trade / Trade and Environment; O15: Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth / Economic Development / Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
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