5 years ago

Digital technology powers tourism industry

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Like its many other advantages, the rapid development of digital technology has been helping global tourism industry move forward even beyond one's imagination. At present, tourism development cannot be achieved without the blessings of digital technology. A great change has also been noticed in the taste and trend of global tourists. A tourist, prior to his/her journey to any destination, checks the status of the destination, its environment, local culture, food habit of local people, temperature etc using the digital means.

While travelling to a destination, a tourist may easily come to know about the attractions, standard of accommodation and quality packages through travel apps installed on his/her mobile or laptop or visiting relevant websites. S/he may also confirm their hotel booking, food and transports, and therefore can avoid facing any hassle prior to the journey. Owing to advancement of digital technology, tourists nowadays rarely face natural disaster or any other awkward circumstances. With the help of digital route map and global positioning system (GPS), a tourist can easily roam around. Apart from these, tourists can stay out of being deceived in any destination while on travel. On the other hand, the service providers offer a wider option of services and attractive posts with a view to drawing the attention of potential tourists. The tourists can also make booking of their packages as per their choices and of best bargain and give feedback immediately of service - things that earlier looked impossible.

The young folks are being encouraged to engage themselves in the tourism industry because of the blessing of digital technology. They are undertaking adventurous tours, travels or journey to the unknown and creepy destinations. They are out there to visit almost every nook and corner of the country and carrying out expedition tours under the sea, making scuba diving, snorkelling and cruising. In this era of digitalisation, parents are also going for outing with their kids to any part of the country without any hesitation.

Students of schools, colleges and universities from across the country are now focusing on the philosophy - learning by travelling. They know easily by dint of digital technology, which destination to be focused for accomplishing their syllabus and other relevant tasks. With even a less budget, they can collect data and seek relevant information from a destination.

With a rather sustainable development of the country's tourism industry, a number of hindrances appear to be in the scene to stymie the industry's overall development. These hindrances, however, can easily be overcome by using the digital platform and innovation.

Of late, the industry has witnessed a great pace of development in line with the true advancement of digital technology. Within a few seconds, various kinds of offers can be reached to thousands of potential tourists. There are also many scopes of making choices for tourism packages using online platforms by the intending tourists. These also help reduce use of paper while also checking fuel and environmental damages.

To achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), tourism can play a significant role. SDG 8, 12 and 14 are directly involve tourism. Digital technology helps tourism development in a unique way. Various entrepreneurships are being developed with youth and local community engagement in tourism gradually increasing because of digital technology. Also, employment generation and poverty reduction in urban and rural areas are taking place, which contribute to the effort of Bangladesh government's SDG achievement.

In a way, the promotion and publicity activities of tourism are these days totally dependent on digital technology. Any service offer of tourism can be reached now to millions of tourists through social media. Many young tour operators are using YouTube, facebook etc for the publicity of their offers. Also, the young community can develop and apply many innovative ideas based on digital technology for the tourism development. The government of Bangladesh also put much stress on the application of digital technology for the tourism development in Bangladesh. The National Tourism Policy-2010 gives important directives for applications of digital technology in tourism of Bangladesh. Also, the government has increased budget in this regard.

Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation (BPC), in collaboration with the a2i (Access to Information), has undertaken many programmes such as branding, public awareness campaign, introduction of tourism YouTube channel etc. The BPC ensured online services to the tourists at its all hotels, motels including online booking and payment and upgradation of websites. Grievances redress system (GDS) has been installed to accept complaints and redress the same. Now tourists can lodge complaints and send feedback to the BPC from any part of the country. Furthermore, digital initiative has been put on place to resolve any problem faced by a tourist.

The role of digital technology for tourism promotion in Bangladesh is now well recognised. Many travel agents and tour operators from both the public and private sectors are selling their package tours using digital platforms like the internet, website and social media. These help grow the industry in a modern, sustainable way. Customers now can purchase and collect airlines tickets staying right inside his/her bedroom. S/he does not need to spend fuel. Ticket and boarding pass are also provided online, which result in less effort - thereby saving paper and the environment as a whole.

With the application of digital technology, tourism industry can move forward to a long way. Creation of new tourism entrepreneurs, reduction in poverty, women empowerment and development of environment-friendly sustainable tourism industry has also been possible. It can, therefore, be said that tourism can properly be developed in the country as across the globe by ensuring proper application of digital technologies. Application of digital technology in all aspects of tourism is now indispensable.

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

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