Dhaka, Bangladesh
Tourism potentials remain untapped

Tourism potentials remain untapped

By Sabrina Khan

(From yesterday's issue) 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. During this time, The Westin, Radission Blu Water Garden, Amari, Six Season, Four Points Sheraton, Le Meridien, Sarina and Regency have been opened for the guests. The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) is the global authority on the economic and social contribution of Travel & Tourism said the direct contribution of Travel & Tourism to GDP in Bangladesh in 2015 was BDT407.6bn (2.4% of GDP). Meanwhile, IHG® (InterContinental Hotels Group), one of the world's leading hotel companies, opened InterContinental® Dhaka in partnership with Bangladesh Services Limited recently. A high official 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. Shahidus Sadeque, director (business and sales), InterContinental hotel said numbers of hotels are coming which indicate a growth in the hospitality industry. "We have done well in 2010, 2011 and 2012. After that now, we are doing well. If Bangladesh can achieve nearly 7% GDP growth, we need at least 5 to 6 five-star hotels. All those new hotels are a part of tourism industry. More sports, events and international seminar in the coming days, must increase the growth of this industry. Vivek Bhalla, Regional Vice President, SWA, IHG in a press release on Monday commented: "Today is a milestone occasion for us as we announce the opening of InterContinental® Dhaka - a stunning property that will offer the guests a luxurious experience with signature facilities and high standards of service that we have become renowned for. We are confident that the hotel will be a great success and we look forward to welcoming our guests from around the world. The opening also aligns with our strategy to expand our presence across brands, and key cities in the SWA region. BB statistics show that earnings from the country's tourism sector increased nearly 100 percent in the year of 2017. This happened banking on the ongoing reality of political stability and steady economic growth of the country. Meanwhile, the government has planned to ease the visa system further for tourists and activate visa- on-arrival facilities through land - and seaports to give foreign tourists easier access to Bangladesh and thus boost the tourism sector, officials said. To attract more and more tourists and ensure them a hassle-free arrival here, the government has decided to provide port visa to foreign nationals, including those of Bangladesh origin. Immigration officers at the port of entry-airports and land ports - are supposed to approve this after examining all the relevant documents. A government official said the visa regime of Bangladesh is quite tourist-friendly and Bangladesh missions abroad always accord visas to the tourists at the shortest possible time. He, however, said it may attract more tourists if the visa-on-arrival process is eased further. Talking to this correspondent, a diplomat said, "We've offered the privilege of on-arrival visa to a number of countries. We don't know its impact on our tourism sector and it's high time we found that out. It would help us take appropriate measures accordingly." Former 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 at any time, including Bangladesh, as "we tragically experienced at the Gulshan attacks". BB statistics show that earnings from the country's tourism sector increased nearly 100 percent in the year of 2017. This happened banking on the ongoing reality of political stability and steady economic growth of the country. Bangladesh can mull over replicating success stories of the hospitality and tourism industry of Malaysia, Indonesia, the Maldives, India, Vietnam and Sri Lanka to give a boost to the national economy, said a tourism expert. The hospitality industry in Bangladesh holds tremendous potentials as Bangladesh economy is growing by over 7.50 per cent and the country is set to become a member of a middle-income group by 2021, he said. 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. At least 8- 10 new 5-star hotels are entering into market within 5-6 years, as the economy is growing by over 7.50 per cent a year. Meanwhile, IHG® (InterContinental Hotels Group), one of the world's leading hotel companies, opened InterContinental® Dhaka in partnership with Bangladesh Services Limited recently. Vivek Bhalla, Regional Vice President, SWA, IHG in a press release on Monday commented: "Today is a milestone occasion for us as we announce the opening of InterContinental® Dhaka - a stunning property that will offer the guests a luxurious experience with signature facilities and high standards of service that we have become renowned for. We are confident that the hotel will be a great success and we look forward to welcoming our guests from around the world. The opening also aligns with our strategy to expand our presence across brands, and key cities in the SWA region." Bangladesh Services Limited, further stated: "We are delighted to partner with a global hospitality company such as IHG to open InterContinental® Dhaka, a landmark hotel in the capital city. Dhaka is emerging as a business hub, attracting travellers from across the globe and we are delighted to offer world-class luxury and comfort to our discerning guests." IHG is currently operating 32 hotels across SWA under the brands InterContinental Hotels & Resorts, Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts, Holiday Inn Hotels & Resorts and Holiday Inn Express and is aiming for rapid expansion with a strong pipeline of 60 hotels across cities. The luxury hotel is situated in a prime and one of the most prestigious locations in the capital city, Minto Road with easy access to the downtown business district, said a press release. Bangladesh has witnessed significant economic development in the recent years with a rise in both domestic and international travellers. With opening of InterContinental® Dhaka, IHG aims to provide the discerning travellers the best in luxury in its signature style. Located in the heart of the city, InterContinental® Dhaka is easily accessible from all key city landmarks such as the Prime Minister's Office, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahaman Medical University, Bashundhara City Shopping Center, the famous Dhaka University Campus and renowned historical monuments. Built in a contemporary design, the hotel offers 226 stylish guest room, including 201 premium or deluxe rooms, 10 deluxe suites, 5 superior suites, 5 diplomatic suites and 5 presidential suites. Guests staying in the Club InterContinental Rooms can access the Club Lounge, to relax, work or enjoy exclusive dining options including breakfast, evening beverages and canapés. InterContinental® Dhaka offers two exquisitely designed ballrooms and 7 spacious meeting rooms equipped with the latest technology. With over 21000 square feet of specially designed space for meetings and events, the hotel promises flawlessly executed corporate and social events. InterContinental® Dhaka features unrivalled facilities and amenities including a temperature- controlled swimming pool overlooking Ramna park, a gymnasium, a steam room, a sauna and a spa offering an extensive menu of signature therapies. The hotel also offers the finest dining options with an array of local and world cuisines including an indulgent all-day dining, a speciality restaurant, a café in the lobby and a pool bar. Guests can also enjoy carefully curated cocktails and canapes at the Club bar and restaurant. The hotel has a dedicated concierge service team that provides attentive and tailored service to ensure that every guest experiences personalized luxury during their stay. With operation of new hotels in the Dhaka city, the market will go through a correction with boutique hotels facing tough competition, said a high official of La Meridian hotel. Citing a report, he said that a 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. 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, he said 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. A high official of InterContinental® Dhaka 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 expressed the views 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. He 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. 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.

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