Digital marketing & sustainable rural tourism

Traditional boat in village is a tourist attraction in Bangladesh. 	—Collected Photo Traditional boat in village is a tourist attraction in Bangladesh. —Collected Photo

The countryside and other rural areas of Bangladesh provide some of the most splendid natural landscapes. As a result, one of the sectors that have significantly aided in the growth of rural regions is tourism. This mostly has to do with how well the tourist industry can create networks of collaboration among the many local economic actors, how well it can draw in investment (both public and private), and the dynamics that visitors bring to their experiences of rural tourism.

There is still a digital divide in the hospitality sector, and some of the most likely explanations include technological, sociological, and motivational aspects. As a result, there are many worries about visitors and the locations they travel to. This issue consequently affects rural communities, which need more resources in the following categories: technological resources, human resources with specialised knowledge in ICT, financial resources, and, most importantly, an innovative culture.

However, as new opportunities arise, further efforts by rural communities are starting to pay off, primarily due to the continual adoption of information and communication technologies (ICT) and the installation of communication solutions that link them to the rest of the world.

To successfully narrow the current digital divide and spark development and improvement, our tourism institutions, such as the Bangladesh Tourism Board and the Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation, should monitor and plan for digitised/smart rural areas. The idea of global digital transformation and innovation should be embraced by organisations as well. As a result of unequal access to various forms of technology, a digital gap has developed. This paradigm change, unique, inventive, and creative digital marketing activities will be designed and implemented using information and communication technology. A campaign to promote rural tourism would serve as an illustration of this.

Therefore, it is evident that this industry needs access to international markets to be sustainable, even though rural tourism destinations like Sunamganj, Sundarbans village life, and Sherpur have received widespread praise for the quality of their services and the warmth of their welcome. Sunamganj, village life in the Sundarbans, and Sherpur are just a few instances. However, it should be remembered that a critical element of rural tourism's long-term sustainability and a driving force behind the rural land extension is the ability to draw in foreign visitors and then keep their presence. This should be viewed as a crucial supporting element in the sustainability of rural tourism in the future.

There are 86,038 villages in Bangladesh, and it is anticipated that the country will leverage its rural beauty, wildlife, and cultural heritage to draw tourists from within Bangladesh and other countries. Due to its wealth in natural resources, which makes it accessible to tourists from across the world throughout the year, this country has a great deal of potential to become a well-known tourist destination. The value of digital marketing increases when we consider the challenges and expenses related to employing conventional marketing strategies to connect with people interested in rural tourism around the world. Digital marketing has much untapped potential for marketing and promoting tourism in general. However, when the target groups of rural tourists are considered, the effectiveness of this marketing gets significantly boosted.

Given the information at hand, it is evident that there is no systematic digital marketing strategy centered on the distinctive qualities of rural tourist sites of Bangladesh. Such a plan would simultaneously address the location's image issues, the need to ensure sustained tourist flows, and the location's brand equity. This plan's long-term objective would also consider rural communities' socioeconomic setting and long-term existence.

The core opinion is that relevant authorities and ministries ought to create and assess a multidimensional conceptual model outlining the potential effects of digital marketing on the long-term sustainability of rural communities worldwide.

Due to several unique traits, rural tourism stands apart from other forms. For instance, it enables tourists to participate in cultural and gastronomic rites and traditions. It helps tour operators give visitors a more individualised experience. Despite this, the tourism industry can be developed along with the society's growth. As a result, it has been more closely associated with digital transformation. Tourists, tour operators, and even venues can increasingly use information and communications technologies as proactive and decisive methods.

For Bangladesh as a country, Smart Bangladesh concept has been a potential aspiration. The digital revolution in the tourism sector can transform the current tourist scenario, improve the overall quality and variety of what it has to offer visitors, calling for a shift in marketing strategies as well as a revitalisation of the sector and the products it delivers. These events will take place one after the other. This reality has an even more significant impact on rural destinations because marketing initiatives targeted at rural destinations can significantly benefit from globalisation's opportunities and the increased efficiency and effectiveness brought about by incorporating new digital tools and technologies.

The introduction and widespread use of cutting-edge new digital platforms has had a profound effect, especially on how customers interact with and communicate with businesses to satisfy their material and financial needs. Today's society uses digital platforms such as search engines, websites, social networks, mobile applications, and email services to interact with one another, stay updated on national and international events, buy and sell goods and services, manage their finances, and increasingly perform professional duties.

The environmental impact on marketing as a field of study is one of the most remarkable changes it brought about. This is because programmes produced through its integration with cutting-edge information and communications technology (ICT) and digital tools are more effective, simpler to manage, and most importantly, make an investment return that can be assessed more precisely. The idea that "digital marketing" is identical to the promotion of goods and services through these channels is widely accepted due to the expansion of digital media.

The success of a digital marketing campaign, mainly when used to promote a rural tourism business, depends on the smart Bangladesh vision's overall quality and the supporting material's quality. A creative e-marketing plan can help rural areas develop optimistic attitudes. An example would be that user' expectations about how to respond may be immediately affected by the effectiveness of a particular piece of hardware or software. Given the association between the two variables, it seems sensible to assume that there is a correlation between the effectiveness of e-marketing activities in rural tourism areas and tourists' intentions to visit those locations.


Dr. Mohammad Shahidul Islam, Assistant Professor in Marketing, BRAC University. [email protected]

Youssef El Archi, PhD Candidate, National School of Business and Management of Tangier, Morocco. [email protected]

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