Considering the current spread of Omicron variant of Covid-19 across the country, Javed Ahmed, CEO of Bangladesh Tourism Board (BTB), said the government will implement a restricted and guided tourism policy to protect the sector and overcome the impact of the pandemic.

Bangladesh tourism industry has been growing steadily across the country with significant contribution to the national economy until Covid-19 hit the world. The sudden spread of the pandemic has hit this sector of the country hard and the whole industry has just come to a halt, he told the Dhaka Tribune.

While the tourism sector has been hit hard by the pandemic in 2020 and 2021, the government is closely monitoring the development of Omicron’s situation.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina asked relevant stakeholders at the National Tourism Council meeting to prepare short, medium and long-term planning to improve the sector, he also said.

Javed Ahmed also said that the Bangladesh Tourism Board is also working on preparing a master plan under the “seventh five-year plan” to develop the sector over the next 25 years.

The government must develop a real ecotourism policy in order to develop this niche market and attract tourists before this initiative is taken up by countries in the region with already developed tourist industries, according to the report of the Seventh-Five Plan on the tourism sector. .

Despite natural wonders like the longest natural beach in the world and the Sundarbans, Bangladesh seems unable to attract many tourists and the government has only recently begun to recognize the potential of the industry if given the necessary support. , also indicates the plane.

The plan also suggested that the government was actively seeking to diversify the export basket.

The tourism sector can be a promising alternative, which in addition to the export sector also has a multitude of other positive economic implications such as job creation, the creation and expansion of related industries in upstream and downstream, and can greatly contribute to long-term development goals. such as women’s empowerment and poverty reduction, he added.

While the number of tourist arrivals increased by an average of 6.8% between 1995 and 2009, the number of tourist departures more than doubled at an average rate of 14.8% over the same period.

The laws, the Bangladesh Tourism Board Act and the Tourism Policy of 2010, provide the legal framework for tourism rules and regulations, as well as the expansion and regulation of the industry.

These also cover areas such as development, infrastructure improvement, human resource development, communication expansion, marketing, and regulatory and legal oversight of private organizations and NGOs operating in the sector.

However, the plan also suggested “the identification and upgrading of tourist locations across the country and the expansion of existing attractions; Involvement of local government institutions in tourism activities; recourse to Public Private Partnership (PPP) for the creation of infrastructures and the improvement of the management of industry; capacity building in the sector, with emphasis on the development of human resources through training courses and the creation of tourism training centres.

The tourism sector in Bangladesh has suffered badly, with international tourist arrivals dropping by 72% in 2020 compared to 2019, according to data prepared by the special branch of the Bangladesh Police.

A total of 168,201 tourists visited Bangladesh in 2020 compared to 591,503 tourists in 2019.

A total of 65,094 tourists visited in January 2020, 56,702 in February, 23,777 in March, 15 in April, 78 in May, 208 in June, 1,328 in July, 1,518 in August, 2,435 in September, 4,088 in October, 5,364 in November and 7,594 in December.

Sources said that the BTB is willing to develop software with the help of the special branch of the police to update the latest statistics on tourist arrivals in the country, emulating the models of countries like India. , the Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand

According to an UNWTO forecast, Bangladesh suffered a loss of $470 million (Tk 4,000 crore) in the travel and tourism sector.

The pandemic has affected most of the various small business sub-sectors of this industry, including hotels, restaurants, tour operators, travel agencies and the transportation sector.

The Tour Operators Association of Bangladesh (TOAB) estimated the loss at Tk 6,000 crore and around 70% of the 3 million workers in this sector losing their jobs.

According to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), the total contribution of travel and tourism to GDP was 2.7% of GDP, which fell to 1.7% of GDP due to the pandemic, registering a negative growth of 32%.

Employment in this sector out of total employment was 2.9%. which fell to 2.3% in 2019.

Data prepared by Bangladesh Bank during the fiscal year 2019-2020 showed that inbound travel revenue stood at $320.01 million, which fell to $218.50 million during the year. financial year 2020-21.

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