Tourism and the Digital Transformation

Md. Ziaul Haque Howlader
Manager (PR), Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation 


The UNWTO designated world tourism day is observed on 27 September across the globe with much fervour and grandeur. All the member states of the UNWTO have been celebrating the day since 1980 following a decision of its General Assembly. Every year, UNWTO issues a theme of the world tourism day. This year the theme is - Tourism and the Digital Transformation i.e. with the advancement of digital technology, tourism industry can excel. Like elsewhere of the world, Bangladesh also celebrates the day with various programmes. 

The rapid development of digital technology helps the global tourism leaping forward beyond imagination. At present, tourism development can not be done without digital technology. A great change has been noticed in the test and trend of global tourists. A tourist, prior to his journey to any destination checks the status of the destination, its environment, local culture, food habit of local people, temperature etc. During the earlier period, a tourist had to ask another tourist who already visited the said destination or seek information from the advertisement of tourism service providers. Now, the whole world is at the fingertips of a tourist. While traveling to a destination, a tourist can be acquainted with the attractions, standard of hotels and the reliability of the package-offering companies by the help of travel apps on his mobile, laptop or on website. He may also confirm his hotel booking, food and transports, and therefore, he can avoid all the hassles prior to journey. Owing to advancement of digital technology tourist now rarely face natural disaster or any other awkward circumstances. With the help of digital route map and GPS, a tourist can easily roam around and come out from any un-known destination. Apart from these, tourists can remain out of being deceived in any destination or while traveling. On the other hand, the service-providers offer a wide range of options in their services and attractive posts with a view to drawing the attention of potential tourists. Tourist can also make bookings of their packages as per their choices and of best bargain and give feedback immediately of services, which were earlier impossible.

The young folks are also being encouraged to engage themselves in tourism industry because of the blessing of digital technology. They are undertaking adventure tourism activities to the unknown and creepy destinations. They are visiting at every nook and corner of the country and carrying out expedition tours under the sea, involving in scuba diving, snorkeling and cruising. In this era of digitalization, parents are also going for outing with their kids to anywhere of the country without any hesitation. 

The students of schools, colleges and universities of Bangladesh are now focusing on the philosophy - learning by traveling. They get to know whatever they need very easily by dint of digital technology, which destination to be focused for accomplishing their syllabus and other relevant tasks. With limited budgets, they can complete trips with a preassumed calculations by collecting data and seeking relevant information from a people who have been there earlier.

At the pace of sustainable development of tourism industry, there takes place some hindrance on the way of its development. However, by applying the digital platform and innovation these hindrances can easily be overcome. 

As per the true advancement of digital technology, tourism industry gets a great pace of development. Within a few seconds, various kinds of offers now reach thousands of potential tourists. There are also many scopes of choices for tourism packages for tourists. These also help reducing the paper uses, fuel and environmental damages.

Tourism is such an industry, where consumers come to products; sellers need not to export the products to consumers. Moreover, quality of these tourism products can be tested over teleconference. A consumer i.e. tourist can buy or choose destinations, accommodations and packages as per his choice. 

To achieve the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG), tourism can play a significant role. SDG -8, 12 and 14 are directly involved in tourism. On the other hand, digital technology also helps tourism development in a unique way. Because of the digital technology, various entrepreneurships are also being developed; youth & local community engagement in tourism are gradually increasing. Employment opportunity generation and poverty reduction in urban and rural areas are also taking place, which contribute to the effort of Bangladesh government's SDG achievement.

The promotion and publicity activities of tourism are now totally dependent on digital technology. Now any service offer of tourism can be reached to million of tourist through social media. Many young tour operators are using YouTube, Facebook, Instagram for the publicity of their offers. In addition, the young community can develop and apply many innovative ideas based on digital technology for the tourism development. The government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh has also put much stress on the application of digital technology for the tourism development in Bangladesh. The National Tourism Policy-2010 also gives important directives for applications of digital technology in tourism of Bangladesh. In this regard, the government has increased the budget. 

Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation, in collaboration with the A2I of Hon'ble Prime Minister’s Office has undertaken many programmes such as branding, public awareness campaigns, introduction of tourism YouTube channel etc. BPC also ensured on-line service to tourists at  all of its hotels, motels including on-line booking and payment and upgrdation of websites. Grievances Redress System (GDS) has been installed to accept complaints and redress. Now tourists can lodge complaints and send feedback to BPC from any destination of the country. Digital initiatives have been put on places to resolve any problem of tourist and realize his needs. 

It is now perceived that the role of digital technology for tourism promotion of Bangladesh in inevitable. Many travel agents, tour operators of both the public and private sectors of Bangladesh tourism industry are selling their package tours with the help of internet, website and social media in a great deal. Customers now can purchase and collect airlines tickets from his bedroom. He does not need to spend fuel. Tickets and boarding passes are now supplied on-line, which saves people’s time, effort and penny to a great extent as well as contributes to safeguarding environment by saving paper.

By the application of digital technology, tourism industry can be taken forward to a long way. Creation of new tourism entrepreneurs, reduction of poverty, women empowerment and development of environment-friendly sustainable tourism industry are possible. Therefore, we can aver, tourism can properly be developed in Bangladesh as well as across the globe by proper application of digital technology.  Application of digital technology in all the aspects of tourism is now indispensible.