Dhaka, Bangladesh
Tourism sector posts positive growth

Tourism sector posts positive growth

Despite the security alert raised by some western countries for their citizens about visiting Bangladesh, tourism sector of the country has staged a comeback with an upturn in income. Bangladesh earned 149.61 million US dollars from the tourism sector during the January-May period of 2018, according to data available from the central bank, Bangladesh Tourism Board (BTB) and Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation (BPC). The national election is likely to be held in December this year and a large number of election observers and development partners are expected to visit Bangladesh. 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). 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, according to the International News Agency. The tourism sector got a massive blow after the Gulshan cafe tragedy on July 1, 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 to 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. "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 any time, including Bangladesh, as we tragically experienced at the Gulshan attack. 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 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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