Dhaka, Bangladesh
Tourism staging comeback

Tourism staging comeback

Defying the security threat of some western countries issued to their citizens against visiting Bangladesh, tourism sector of the country has staged to comeback on the right track. Banking on political stability and steady economic growth, earnings from the tourism sector clocked nearly 100 per cent in the concluded year 2017, according to statistics of Bangladesh Bank said. Bangladesh earned 324.28 million US dollars from the tourism sector during the January-December period of 2017 year as against 163.21 million in 2016, according to statistics of according to statistics of Bangladesh Bank and the Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation (BPC). During the January-February period of the current calendar year (2018), the tourism sector earned 65.57 million US dollars showing shiny days ahead. As the national election set to be held in December 2018, a good number of dignitaries, international election observers, politicians, journalists, members of civil society of different countries are expected to visit Bangladesh making a bright prospect of the tourism sector. After Gulshan café attack on July 1, 2016 that left 19 foreigners killed, some western countries issued warnings to their citizens against visiting Bangladesh. 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. 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 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 last year, top Chief Executive Officers of the multinational companies, leaders of donor agencies and NGO leaders have visited Bangladesh on large scale. 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. Former 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

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