Every nation is a brand. Every nation has her own image in the minds of people living elsewhere, be it for good reasons or reasons one would prefer not to cherish for. She has her distinctive features to represent herself and create her own brands, be it historical significance, arts and culture, significant happenings, modern or man–made or the natural elements that usually shape a country’s image and perception in peoples mind. So is the image of Bangladesh.
Bangladesh had created an image of hers in peoples mind across the world for many reasons, and on numerous occasions. She is the most linguistically, culturally and ethnically homogeneous country in the world. She wears a badge of pride with her culture, heritage and self-identity. With the heroic of Bhasha Andolon of 1952 and the Liberation War of 1971 alongside the Peoples’ Movement of 1969 and 1990, Bangladesh rediscovers her identity and self-image as a nation that would never compromise on her freedom.
Bangladesh’s uncompromising character to preserve her freedom, astounding heritage and enriched history, the decade old tradition of art and culture are the elements that may shape Bangladesh’s image as a brand across the world, irrespective of the subsistence of cyclic flood or natural calamity, constant political turmoil and unrests in various sectors. Nevertheless, there are plenty of other features that Bangladesh is yet to capitalize on to brand herself. An uprising cricket-playing nation, a booming IT (Information Technology) outsourcing market, or a robust garments manufacturing hub are just a few amongst others, which can be tapped in for branding Bangladesh.
In many cases, Tourism has successfully worked to brand a nation. Spain adopted a tagline ‘Everything Under the Sun’ by Juan Miro to promote Tourism. It worked. It was successful in making Spain a modern, warm and inviting country, for both business and tourism. The City of Barcelona won the bid to host Olympics 1992, thanks to the prior successful branding efforts.
Tourism is too good a sector for Bangladesh in terms of nation branding. Historically Bangladesh is an ancient land, was founded around 300 BC comprising Bangladesh and the West Bengal. The legendary archaeological sites of Mahasthangarh built in 3rd century BC, the Wari Bateshwar built during the 6th century BC and the Paharpur and Moinamoti of the 8th century AD, just adds more glory to Bangladeh’s golden past. The present day landmass of Bangladesh is believed to have been urbanized from Wari Bateshwar, the 2500 years old ancient fort city situated at the north-eastern part of the country.
However, Bangladesh can be turned into a place of tourist attraction not only based on her historical significance, but for her breathtaking natural beauty too. The Sundarbans – the largest mangrove forest in the world, Cox’s Bazar – the largest unbroken sandy sea beach, the panoramic landscape of Bandarbans and Rangamati and the greenery of the tea gardens of Sylhet and Jafflong are just a few paradigms that stand tall to exemplify the Beautiful Bangladesh. Her scintillating greenery and breathtaking natural beauty has always fascinated the tourists.
The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) positions Bangladesh at the 80th place among 184 countries. Considering the last few years fascinating success of the country’s Tourism industry, Bangladesh ranks herself at the 12th position in the list of Long-Term Growth Forecast from 2013-2023, which illustrates the potential of Bangladeshi tourism for nation branding.
Nonetheless, a country’s tourist industry is not only mounted on her natural beauty or heritage or the archaeological sites, but embroils the development of positive attitude and learning to respect other’s customs and culture, infrastructure and transportation facilities required for travel and trade, availability of services that business and tourists need, fairness of the legal system and good governance, degree of protection to the private property and foreign investment, etc.
In today’s world all the countries are trying to level themselves on the same platform in terms of infrastructure and quality of life. Thus nation banding could possibly the best way for Bangladesh to position herself in the world system. Every country has her own sets of strengths and weaknesses. But branding a nation always helps by showcasing the strengths and positive aspects of a country while recognizing her weaknesses. Branding Bangladesh can therefore be the key tool to earn maximum international recognition, set up a healthy tourism industry, gain robust business networks and relations, generate employment, and earn dignity for the people and reach where Bangladesh wants to be as a nation.
The story was first published in INTELLECT Issue no.3, dated November 2013.