Tourist sites, resorts and recreation centres to reopen from August 19 at half the capacity
Tour Operators Association of Bangladesh (TOAB) on Thursday asked Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for a special incentive package so that their industry can recover from the losses made due to the pandemic.
Md Rafeuzzaman, the president of TOAB and a governing body member of the Bangladesh Tourism Board, made the request on Thursday at a webinar, which was attended by tour operators from all over the country.
He said the tourism sector had added 4.7% to the national GDP in 2019, amounting to Tk6,300 crore. But due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the tourism sector had to incur losses of around Tk20,000 crore last year.
“About 4 million people involved in this industry are almost destitute; many are frustrated and have been forced to move to another business,” Rafeuzzaman added.
“We have been seeking incentives for tour operators and everyone involved in the tourism industry since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, but it has not come to fruition yet,” he further said.
Noting the challenges that the industry is facing at present, the TOAB president also sought tax exemption on dedicated imported vehicles for tourism.
Mohammed Shahed Ullah, director of Media and Publication at TOAB, told Dhaka Tribune that the transport sector, hotels and motels, and many other industries have received stimulus and aid funds, but tour operators have been ignored.
In a notification on the same day, the Cabinet Division said tourist spots, resorts as well as recreation centres will be allowed to operate from August 19 at half the capacity while following all safety protocols.
The TOAB president thanked the government for this initiative.
CEO of Bangladesh Tourism Board Jabed Ahmed joined the webinar as the chief guest.
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Among others, President of Bangladesh International Hotel Association (BIHA) HM Hakim Ali, President of Tourism Resort Industries Association of Bangladesh (TRIAB) Khabir Uddin Ahmed, President of Bangladesh Inbound Tour Operators Association Rezaul Ekram Razu, Chairman of Tourism Developers Association of Bangladesh (TDAB) Syed Habib Ali, President of Bangladesh Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (BAAPA) Shahriar Kamal, Adviser of Cottage Owners Association of Sajek Valley Md Moniruzzaman Masud, also attended the webinar.
Earlier, TOAB, in order to provide maximum services to the tourists in the tourism industry and economic development of Bangladesh, urged the concerned authorities to make arrangements for immunization on a priority basis.
It also asked the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism for proper development of the tourism industry in Bangladesh.
According to TOAB, all those involved in tourism have lost more than Tk20,000 crore due to coronavirus in 2020, where Tk5,700 crore has been lost by the TOAB members alone.