Dhaka, Bangladesh
Minister eyes more funds for tourism development

Minister eyes more funds for tourism development

Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister Shahjahan Kamal on Thursday said tourism industry need more investment and he will request Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to allocate more fund for further development of the sector, reports BSS. "I will request honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to allocate more fund for further development of the tourism sector," he said while inaugurating a workshop in the city. The minister said he will also request the Bangladesh Bank to take initiatives for tourism development under the corporate social welfare (CSR) schemes of different banks. Bangladesh Tourism Board with the support of United Nations World Tourism Organisation and Guangong Chimelong Group of China organised the workshop for public officials on wildlife conservation and sustainable tourism in Bangladesh at its conference room here. Terming 2017 as one of the successful years of the country's tourism, the minister said Bangladesh tourism industry is advancing for different initiatives taken by the present government. He said Bangladesh hosted first ever an UNWTO event in Chittagong and organised beach carnival for the first time at Kuakata last year. "Bangladesh was elected as the chairman of commission for South Asia (CSA) for UNWTO in 2017," he said. Last year, he said for the first time the Bangladesh Bank included tourism sector in its CSR scheme. The minister said there is growing concern on wildlife conservation and development, as it is an integral part of sustainable tourism development. Referring to UNWTO declaration of 2017 as the "International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development" the minister hoped that the recommendations from the workshop will help in advancing responsible tourism in Bangladesh by preserving biodiversity and wildlife. Presided over by CEO of BTB Dr M Nasir Uddin, the inaugural session was also addressed by Additional Secretary of Civil Aviation and Tourism Ministry M Imran and BTB Director Nikhil Ranjon Roy. Professor of Tourism and Hospitality Management Department of Dhaka University Dr M Afjal Hossain presented the keynote paper while BTB Deputy Manager Akhtar Ahmed conducted the session. In his keynote paper Prof Afjal said the tourism industry must recognize its responsibility to the wildlife conservation as well as the overall environment of the earth to ensure the achievement of sustainable Development Goal (SDGs) through sustainable tourism development. As per the UNWTO data tourism and travel generates 10 percent of world GDP whereas it generates 2.1 percent of GDP of Bangladesh. The News Today correspondent adds: Some 620,000 foreign tourists visited Bangladesh last year though the government set a target of attracting one million tourists, sources in the Bangladesh Tourism Board and Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation said. In 2015, some 600,000 tourists visited Bangladesh. Though the country will enter New Year 2018, the data for tourist arrival for the current 2017 have not been updated by the special branch of the Bangladesh Police, said sources in the Bangladesh Tourism Board and Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation said. Bangladesh earned 139.98 million US dollars from the tourism sector during January- May period of 2017 calendar year compared to 64.06 million US dollars in 2016 clocking 218.58 per cent growth over the same period, according to the Bangladesh Bank and Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation said. Earlier, Bangladesh earned 163.21 million US dollars from the tourism sector in 2016 calendar year compared to 145.74 million US dollars in 2015 clocking 11.99 per cent growth last year, according to statistics of according to statistics of Bangladesh Bank and the Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation (BPC). However, Bangladesh should not remain complacent over such earning as the country has prospect of earning at least 1000 million US dollars from this sector, said a tour operator. The tourism sector got a massive blow after the Gulshan tragedy that left 22 innocent persons killed on July1, 2016 sources in the industry said. A manager of a posh hotel while talking to The News Today said terrorist incidents have happened in Istanbul, Brussels, Paris, Mumbai but the situation became normal after taking necessary steps by the concerned governments. "The situation has improved after sometime. However, political, social, cultural, religious leaders will have work together to bring back confidence of people, he said. The number of guests at posh hotels like Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel, Westin Hotel, Radisson Water Garden Hotel, Hotel Amari Hotel, Hole Lake Shore Hotel, Hotel Sarina and La Meridian Hotel increased during January-April period of the current year as top business leaders, top Chief Executive Officers of the multinational companies, leaders of donor agencies and NGO leaders have visited Bangladesh on large scale. Despite political stability and steady economic growth, earnings from the tourism sector clocked 11.99 per cent in the concluded year 2016, according to statistics of Bangladesh Bank and the Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation (BPC). The spending capacity of a western tourist is at least ten times higher than that of South Asian tourist, said a higher official of the Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation. The earnings from the sector recorded at 145.74 million US dollars in 2015 compared to 158.09 million US dollars in 2014. Earnings from the sector stood at 121.45 million US dollars in 2013, 100.75 million US dollars in 2012, 83.73 million US dollars in 2011, 79.83 million US dollars in 2010 and 83.9 million US dollars in 2009. Experts in the sector have expressed the hope that travel and tourism sector will post positive growth in the current calendar year if Bangladesh missions abroad highlight the country positively, political stability is restored and warnings by western countries are lifted with proper government policy support to the tourism sector. Bangladesh missions abroad should mull over appointing officials with proper training and the right knowledge to attract tourists, sources in the industry. Such steps can help the country achieve its target of serving one million tourists per year by 2018, especially in the face of allegations that Bangladesh embassy or high commission officials are not always cooperative in offering assistance when approached. "The government should open a separate desk at Bangladesh's foreign missions to promote the sector abroad and appoint people with enough knowledge on tourism to those desks," said Rafiuzzaman, first vice president of Tour Operators Association of Bangladesh. The officials could be appointed from Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation, Bangladesh Tourism Board, or other organisations, he said. Such designated desks could help boost tourism, especially by attracting more businesspeople. "If not for all missions abroad, the government should make such appointments in at least the 15 to 20 countries that generate 80 to 90 percent of all tourists globally," said Taufiq Rahman, chief executive of Journey Plus. Danish Ambassador to Bangladesh Mikael Hemniti Winther in an interview with The News Today said that terrorism is a threat to global peace and security and can strike any country at any time, including Bangladesh, as we tragically experienced at the Gulshan attacks. The threat of terrorism is complex and unpredictable, and it is important to make use of a variety of tools at the national as well as international level in the fight against terrorism. We have noticed that a broad range of action against terrorism has been taken by the government including setting up special units to combat terrorism. Denmark finds it vital that the root causes of terrorism are addressed while the immediate threats are combatted. We contribute actively to enhanced international co-operation against terrorism. We have, over the years, worked on countering violent extremism through development assistance in regions exposed to fundamentalism and radicalism. We are therefore fully committed to the international cooperation in combating terrorism and would be a willing partner to Bangladesh countering threats of terrorism, said Mikael Hemniti Winther. Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister Rashed Khan said the government has taken up some steps to generate 3.5 lakh jobs in the tourism sector by 2018. He said the government is targeting tourists from India, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Maldives, Malaysia, Singapore, Myanmar and China. He said Bangladesh government has signed agreements with Malaysian and Thai government on the tourism sector. Terming the tourism sector as the most prospective sector after readymade garment sector, the minister said the government will launch massive campaign soon at home and abroad to promote this sector Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation Rashed Khan Menon has set an ambitious target to increase foreign tourists arrivals by 70 per cent in 2016. The tourism year campaign was kicked off by organizing a beach carnival at the country's most exciting tourist spot Cox's Bazar on 31st December and a series of activities throughout the next year to attract both foreign and domestic tourists. United Hospital sued for tax dodge Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) filed a lawsuit against the United Hospital with Gulshan Police Station on Thursday, reports UNB. ACC Deputy Director Md Mahbubul Alam filed the case for the Hospital's alleged evasion of Tk. 21 crore tax to the former Dhaka City Corporation. According to the First Information Record (FIR), a six member investigation team formed by ACC found that the Hospital did not pay a net tax of Tk. 21, 44, 26,993 since its inception until December 31, 2011. The Commission placed charges against Managing Director of United Hospital Faridur Rahman Khan, and a former Dhaka City Corporation Commissioner and a member of Assessment Review Board (ARB) of Dhaka City Corporation Rahima Begum for illegal facilitation of tax in favour of the Hospital. One of the members of Assessment Review Board (ARB) Rahima Begum abetted United Hospital in the absence of the chairman and other two members of board.

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