Dhaka, Bangladesh
Hospitality industry growing in Bangladesh

Hospitality industry growing in Bangladesh

By Taswar Ahmed

Bangladesh can replicate success stories of the hospitality and tourism industry of Malaysia, Indonesia, the Maldives, and Sri Lanka to give a boost to the national economy, said Md Al-Amin, director of sales and marketing of the Westin Dhaka. The hospitality industry in Bangladesh holds tremendous potentials as Bangladesh economy is growing by over 7.00 per cent and the country is set to become a member of a middle-income group by 2021, said Md Al-Amin. The tourism industry is considered as a major source of foreign currency earnings for countries like India, Malaysia, Thailand, Maldives, Spain, Switzerland, Nepal, UAE, the Maldives, Indonesia, Singapore and many more. He said Bangladesh a number of attractive tourist places like ancient Buddhist monastery in northern region, the largest sea beach in Cox's Bazar and the largest mangrove forest Sundarbans in Khulna district in the southern part of the country. Bangladesh can boast of posting one of the fastest economic growth in the region surpassing economic giant India and China, at least, in terms of yearly growth. Bangladesh has to transform the structural features of our cities and tourist spots in keeping with the tourism centric structures of some Asian countries like Singapore, Dubai and Kuala Lumpur. The focus should also be given to domestic tourism industry as around nine million domestic tourists travel across the country in a year. Bangladesh has the longest sea beach, Cox's Bazaar, the largest mangrove forest, the Sundarbans, lush green hills and villages, historical monuments, beautiful rivers, lakes and haors and many more attractive things which are to be exploited. With a long term vision, we should give more importance to tourism sector and prepare an innovative plan for developing the Tourism infrastructure and tourist spots having modern amenities. Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation can improve and protect, preserve historical, religious, cultural and architectural sites across the country with relevant government agencies and relevant stake holders that will help attract local and international tourists. To attract tourists in great number, Bangladesh needs to improve its infrastructure, construct a good number of hotels in Dhaka, Chittagong, Sylhet, ensure safe movement of tourists, improve road and rail networks. He laid emphasis political stability, sound law and order situation and conducive business environment to boost the sector. On impact of July 1 cafe attack on the hotel and tourism industry, he said with government taking utmost security and necessary steps, the hotel industry has successfully overcome the initial hiccup lasted for few months. Md Al-Amin said 8-10 new 5-star hotels are entering into market within 5-6 years, as the economy is growing by over 7.00 per cent a year. With operation of new hotels in the Dhaka city, the market will go through a correction with boutique hotels facing tough competition, said Md Al-Amin. Citing a report, the young director of the Westin Hotel said growing number of leading corporate heads and high-end tourists are visiting Bangladesh on a large scale this year. Quoting an estimate, he said some 50-60 billion taka new investment will take place in the hotel industry within 5/6 years. education. It should be increased by opening technical schools in all upazillas of Bangladesh. He said growth in the hospitality industry also indicates that economy of a country is growing soundly and on the right track, said Md Al-Amin having over 15 years of experience in the hospitality industry. Bangladesh has become a member of lower middle income group country, according to World Bank report, that also shows that the hospitality industry holds tremendous potentials to grow in the coming years. However, in the last 2/3 the country has witnessed opening of pose hotels including Five-Star hotels like Radisson Blu Water Hotel at Chittagong, DuSai Resort & Spa in Maulvi Bazar, The Peninsula Chittagong, Amari Dhaka, Long Beach Suites Dhaka Le Meridien Dhaka, Six Seasons Hotel in Dhaka, Four Points by Sheraton in Dhaka, Rose View Hotel, Hotel Valley Garden and Nazimgarh Garden Resort in Sylhet, Long Beach Hotel at Cox Bazar, Grand Sultan Tea Resort & Golfin at Maulvi Bazar showing that Bangladesh is becoming a success story in the hospitably industry. Director of the Weston Hotel opined the country needs international standard hotel management institutions to produce and groom skilled manpower required in the sector. He said the existing institutions and traditional courses offered by universities and some institutions can't produce the trained manpower required in the industry. He proposed that existing courses and curricula in the hotel and tourism need to be upgraded and students should have hands-on training besides theoretical knowledge . He lamented that though women have established themselves in different sectors, their presence in the hotel industry is not at the expected level, adding that women participation in the hotel industry needs to be increased on a large scale. Md Al-Amin expressed the views that Bangladesh can invite leading media personalities, journalists, and heads of international corporate bodies of some countries that have major success in the travel and tourism sector. He said Bangladesh missions abroad can hold discussion meetings with leading cultural personalities to highlight our Bengali culture including different festivals like Pahela Baishakh to woo tourists in the region. Branding of Pahela Bhaishakh abroad can also help attract tourists to visit Bangladesh and to enjoy Bengali festival with our Bangladeshi citizens in major cities. Pahela Baishakh has turned out to be national festival in the last 20 years-irrespective of religion, cast, race and creed. The day is now national holiday and the government and some business houses are also giving festival allowance to their employees. Now local clothing sales stand at 20 per cent out of total sales throughout the year. He also expressed his views that high tax on liquor is also barrier to the promotion of this sector as corporate clients of foreign countries demand this while staying at the hotel. The hotel industry is growing at 5-6 per cent annually in the city. Tourism industry has great potential to boost the economic growth and GDP. At present, there is a big mismatch between skill demanded and skill supplied in the country. Only 14 percent of the students get technical An estimate shows that demand for another 5000 additional rooms have been created in the industry with local and foreign visitors taking interest in exploring Bangladesh. The government of Bangladesh has declared 2016 as the 'Tourism Year' targeting one million tourists. To a question he said market will go through a correction after opening of a number of posh hotels in Bangladesh. It also exposes you to a whole different client base. There is no wholesale in Bangladesh till date, so I will have to say it is the corporate market. A lot of businessmen travel these days with their families. They can go for meetings during the day and we can have activities for the family, whether it is the pool, fitness training, yoga/zumba training, etc. He said with emergence of new middle and upper middle class consumers along with rich consumers, the hotel business will enjoy a healthy growth in the days to come. He said local Bangladeshis are now increasingly spending money in restaurants and hotels that also lead growth of hospitality sector. To a question, he said shortage of skilled and experienced manpower leads unhealthy competition among hoteliers on recruitment of persons. He admitted that room rents of hotels are too high, particularly in posh hotel of Bangladesh compared to countries in India, Thailand, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Malaysia. Bangladesh should also brand its name in the world media to attract tourists, said Amin who has vast experience in the hotel business in his career. He also proposed that Cox's Bazar and Kuakata sea beaches need to be upgraded on priority basis to attract increasing number of tourists both from home and abroad. However, hotel business grows as the number of customers has also risen. He sees 50-60 per cent business in hotel rooms and rest in restaurants, banquets and parties at the Westin dhaka. Nowadays, luxury hotels tend to rely more on promotions like festivals and parties than on their room occupancy for revenue. But since food festivals and other events are coming into prominence, all these promotions are bringing in substantial profits. The business corner is no less than corporate office of any multinational company boss. If anyone comes in Bangladesh for business purpose, s/he can accommodate own office renting the business corner which is furnished with work stations and small corporate meeting room. The guest rooms are of world class, moreover Westin Dhaka has brought difference and additional something in everything including carpet, wall, lighting, bedding, rest rooms and decorations. Besides, the TV screens here can be used for multimedia projection and each room has internet connections with high speed. According to statistics of Bangladesh Tourism Board (BTB), a total of 276,583 tourists in 2013, 586,333 tourists in 2012, 593,722 tourists in 2011, 527,316 tourists in 2010 and 477, 026 tourists in 2009. India tops the list of inbound tourists in Bangladesh, followed by British-Bangladeshis, Chinese, Australians and Canadians. According to BTB, a total of 160,230 Indians visited Bangladesh followed by 83,100 British-Bangladeshis in 2012. The number of outbound tourists is much higher than the number of inbound tourists. 100,000 Bangladeshis every year visit Malaysia, 5,00,000 Bangladeshis visit India, 80,000 Bangladeshis visit Singapore and 70,000 Bangladeshis visit Thailand spending several billion dollars a year. The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) has forecasted that total contribution of travel and tourism sector to Bangladesh GDP will rise by 7.9 percent in the 2014. "The total contribution of travel and tourism to GDP was Taka 460.3 billion (4.4 percent of GDP) in 2013 and is forecast to rise by 7.9 percent in 2014 and to rise by 6.5 percent per year to Taka 935.5 billion (4.7 percent of GDP) in 2024," WTTC said in its recently published Bangladesh Economic Impact Report 2014. In 2013, the report said Bangladesh travel and tourism sector directly supported 13,28,500 jobs that is 1.8 percent of total employment and it is expected to rise by 4 percent in 2014. In Bangladesh, travel and tourism investment in 2013 was Taka 40.5 billion that is 1.5 percent of total investment, it said adding that the investment should rise by 3.4 percent in 2014. The report said Expenditure by foreign visitors are expected to grow by 7 percent in 2014 to Taka 8.9 billion and rise by 5.7 percent per annum to Taka 15.5 billion in 2024. The Leisure travel spending by both foreign and domestic tourists generated 73 percent of direct travel and tourism GDP in 2013 in amount Taka 276.9 billion which is 26.9 percent more compared with business travel spending of Taka 102 billion in the same period. Leisure travel spending is expected to grow by 6.5 percent in 2014, it added. The report said business travel spending is expected to grow by 8.6 percent in 2014 to Taka 110.7 billion and rise by 5.5 percent per year to Taka 188.4 billion in 2024. About the Domestic travel spending the report said it generated 97.8 present of direct travel and tourism GDP in 2013 compared with 2.2 percent for foreign visitors. The report said Domestic travel spending is expected to grow by 7 percent in 2014 to Taka 396.7 billion and rise by 5.8 percent by per year to Taka 699.9 billion in 2024. The size of gross domestic product (GDP) of Bangladesh was 6.4 billion US dollars in 1971. Bangladesh got independence through a nine-month long bloody war in the same year. The size of the GDP of Bangladesh was 209 billion US dollars in 2014, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). During 1970-2013 GDP of Bangladesh grew by 146.4 billion US dollars (in 21.6 times) to 153.5 billion US dollars; change occurred by 9.7 billion US dollars by increasing population of Bangladesh by 90.2 million, as well as by 136.7 billion US dollars by increasing of GDP per capita in Bangladesh by 873 US dollars. The average annual growth of GDP of Bangladesh was 3.4 billion US dollars or 48%. Share in the World fell by 0.01%. Share in Asia decreased by 0.79%. Share in Southern Asia decreased by 2%. Minimal GDP of Bangladesh was in 1971 (6.4 billion US dollars). Maximal GDP of Bangladesh was in 2013 (153.5 billion US dollars). During 1970-2013 GDP per capita in Bangladesh rose by 873 US dollars (in 9.2 times) to 980 US dollars. The average annual growth of GDP per capita in Bangladesh was 20.3 US dollars or 19%.

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