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Tourism sector for specific incentives to combat coronavirus

  • Published at 01:50 pm April 22nd, 2020
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Holidaymakers throng Bholaganj Shada-pathar tourist spot in Sylhet Dhaka Tribune

The World Travel and Tourism Council said that up to 50 million jobs in the global travel and tourism sectors are at risk due to the global coronavirus crisis

Travel and tourism service providers have urged the government to place specific incentive guidelines to support the country’s aviation and leisure industries as ongoing lockdowns and bans on travel due to the coronavirus pandemic has sent the sectors into nosedive.

“The way the government approached incentives for the garment sector and remittances, the same approach needs to be applied for the aviation and tourism sector,” Association of Travel Agents of Bangladesh (ATAB) past president S N Manzur Murshed said on Wednesday, reports BSS.

Stating that aviation and tourism sectors are the country’s largest service industries with 4 million employees, he said: “Owners of these sectors in Bangladesh collectively have to incur more than Tk100 crore in daily losses due to the Covid-19 pandemic.”

He said the global aviation sector is losing $1.2 billion or Tk10,200 crore a day and it is estimated that all components of tourism like tour operators, travel agents, hotels, motels, resorts, restaurants, airlines, tourist transports, cruise, and guides face losses as high as $3 billion or Tk25,500 crore per day globally.

“Our honorable Prime Minister has already said aviation and tourism sectors are affected. So, now specific and comprehensive action needs to be taken,” said Monzur, also a former Member of Bangladesh tourism Board.

As a representative of ATAB, he recently submitted a letter to the Civil Aviation and Tourism Ministry to urge Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to take required initiatives as soon as possible for the respective sectors, he said.

He added that the prime minister may need emergency support for those sectors as they are being impacted directly by the coronavirus crisis.  

Earlier, Tour Operator Association of Bangladesh (TOAB), a platform of 678 tour operators of Bangladesh, estimated their losses by conducting a survey titled Impacts on Bangladesh Tourism and TOAB due to Covid-19.

“After analyzing the losses from January to March this year, we have estimated that we, the tour operators of Bangladesh, may lose nearly Tk6,000 crore this year – from January to December – if the situation does not improve,” TOAB president Md Rafeuzzaman said.

Besides, The PATA (Pacific Asia Travel Association) Bangladesh chapter has predicted that the Bangladesh tourism sector will incur a loss of approximately Tk9,705 crore till June 2020 due to the coronavirus crisis.

“We have estimated the turnover of the entire tourism sector from February to next June 2020. Since our entire business is now shut down, we are going to make losses worth Tk9,705 crore,” Secretary General of PATA Bangladesh Chapter Taufiq Rahman said.

The body also urged the government to allocate TK1,000 crore for hotels, motels, resorts, restaurants, tour operators, tourist vehicles and vessels, and private airlines, as well as make provisions to provide Tk2,000 crore of interest free loan as a loss recovery package for the tourism sector.

On March 13, the World Travel and Tourism Council said that up to 50 million jobs in the global travel and tourism sector are at risk due to the global coronavirus outbreak.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has carefully monitored how the situation has evolved, taking necessary measures to protect Bangladesh from this onslaught.

As part of the measures, the Prime Minister has announced various stimulus packages including Tk95,619 crore which is 3.3 percent of the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) to offset the possible adverse impact on the economy due to the nationwide shutdowns.

The financial stimulus packages are: Tk30,000 crore as working capital for the affected industries and service sectors; Tk20,000 crore as working capital for very small, small and medium enterprises; Tk12,750 crore to increase the advantages for Export Development Fund (EDF); Tk5,000 crore under the Pre-shipment Credit Refinance Scheme, and Tk5,000 crore as special fund for the export oriented industries.

The aviation and tourism sectors have been included in the Prime Minister’s financial stimulus packages. The government also formed a 14-member tourism crisis management committee, headed by the Bangladesh Tourism Board (BTB) CEO, to find the kind of incentives the tourism stakeholders need to tackle the crisis.

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