Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Tourism suffers setback

The growth of the tourism industry will suffer a setback this year as the country witnessed political unrest and frequent violent hartal that claimed at least 25 lives countrywide, said some tour operators. The ruling party and the main opposition are at odds over the caretaker govt issue giving a wrong signal to the tourism industry. The Bangladesh Bank data show that foreign exchange earnings from tourism stood at 74.33 million US dollars in the first eight months of the current year 2013. If the present confrontational politics continues the growth may decline even to zero per cent.
The main opposition party, Bangladesh Nationalist Party, called several hartals during October and has started calling consecutive hartal in the coming month of November
The tourism sector posted 20.46 per cent growth in the last calendar year, the highest growth since the year 2003.
The sector posted negative growth in 2009 and 2010 and a measure of 5.50 per cent in 2011. Only the sector grew 16.79 per cent, the second highest growth in the last 10 years, according to the Bangladesh Bank statistics.
While talking to this correspondent, Hakim Ali, president of Bangladesh Foundation for Tourism Development (BFTD) said tourism sector can generate 500 million US dollars per year provided the government launched a massive drive to popularize the sector with special fund.
Quoting Bangladesh Bank statistics, Hakim Ali said Bangladesh earned only $100m as revenue from tourism sector in the last fiscal.
Hakim Ali, also managing director of Hotel Agrabad, said the country’s tourism sector got 5.28 lakh foreign tourists and 50 lakh domestic tourists in the last fiscal year which proves that the tourism industry is growing.
Rezaul Karim, Executive Director, BFTD, said, Bangladesh can easily earn 2.00-3.00 billion US dollars per year by targeting foreign tourists.
laying emphasis on inbound tourists, he said the number of outbound tourists is much higher than the number of inbound tourists.
He said 100,000 Bangladeshis every year visit Malaysia, 5,00,000 Bangladeshis visit India, 80,000 Bangladeshis visit Singapore and 70,000 Bangladeshis visit Thailand spending several billion dollars a year.
Manzur Murshed, president of the Association of Travel Agents of Bangladesh (ATAB), said the country is losing out on foreign currency from tourists due to the ongoing political turmoil. “They [tourists] are concerned about their safety and security,” he said at a press briefing
Taufiq Rahman, chief executive of Journey Plus, a travel and tour operator, claimed the cancellation of travel plans to Bangladesh by 25 tourists ahead of the three-day strike from Monday as proof of foreign nationals’ concern.
“Strikes always dent the confidence of tourists. The political parties should show some sympathy towards our sector,” Murshed said.
He said the economy would get a boost from the foreign currency the tourists would bring in, while tipping the sector to be the country’s main foreign currency earner in the near future.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh Foundation for Tourism Development (BFTD) and Association of Travel Agents of Bangladesh (ATAB) in collaboration with Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism, Bangladesh Tourism Board, Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of commerce and Industry, Bangladesh Inbound Tour operators Association and Bangladesh International Hotel Association will organize third Bangladesh International Tourism Fair (BITF) at the International Conference Centre (BICC) in the city from November 28-30, 2013.
The event, the country’s biggest international travel and tourism fair, will be inaugurated by Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister Mohammad Faruk Khan MP at 5pm on November 28. There will be a total of 155 stalls.
Participants from the USA, Europe, Middle-east and South Asia will take part in the event.
Participants include travel agents, tour operators, hotels and resorts, card sellers, hospitals, institutions, National Tourism Organization (NTO), airlines, financial institutions, online sellers and other tourism service providers.
Mayor of West Sumatra, Indonesia, tourism minister of Tripura, tour operators association leaders from different countries will attend along with buyers from the USA, Canada, France, Mexico, Australia.
Biman as official airline will offer 25 per cent discount on air tickets for all incoming participants Airlines like Malindo, China Eastern, Turkish Air, Novo Air, regent Air, United Air will offer special fares for the event.

-With The News Today input

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