Although startup funding remains few and far between in Dhaka, one sector continues to attract relatively increased attention from investors: travel. There have been some meaningful changes in the travel space in Bangladesh. The domestic tourism sector has been booming, thanks to a growing number of locals who are traveling inside the country. At the same time, a growing number of Bangladeshis are traveling internationally.
With a growing interest in travel, the dynamics of the industry have been changing fundamentally. Once an analog industry predominantly managed by traditional travel agencies, we have seen a rapid rise of online travel agencies (OTAs) in the past three years. The change has affected consumer choice and behavior. A growing number of urban travelers now are using online travel services to avail various travel-related services from booking flights to hotels to finding relevant information.
According to some industry insiders, there are 10-15 active online travel agencies (OTAs) in the market today. The market share of the OTAs has also grown to 5%-20%, depending on who you ask, from almost non-existent just a few years ago. The leading OTAs such as Flight Expert, ShareTrip, Go Zayaan, Amarroom, Vromon, share a significant market share among themselves.
There has been push back from traditional travel agents. Many complain that OTAs are disrupting the market with deep discounting and aggressive push. However, OTAs in Dhaka are not doing anything new that has already not been done in other markets.
Travel today is predominantly an online thing. In markets like India, MakeMyTrip and other online travel platforms wield excessive power on the traveling choice of customers.
While traditional travel agencies find it hard when OTAs make aggressive moves, the reality that travel services in Bangladesh will move predominantly online is inevitable.
Travel industry by the numbers