Dhaka : Speakers at a roundtable conference focused on inaction and lapses of the government and underscored the need for immediate government action to properly develop tourism in the country.
The roundtable conference on ‘Present Scenario of Bangladesh Tourism and The Course of Action for Public and Private Sectors,’ was organised by The Monitor Foundation at the side line of DTM-2010 at Dhaka Sheraton Hotel.
G.M.Quader, Minister for Civil Aviation and Tourism was present at the roundtable as the chief guest and Engr Mosharraf Hossain MP, Chairman, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Civil Aviation and Tourism as special guest.
Raquib Siddiqi, Chairman, Monitor Foundation and Chief Editor, The Bangladesh Monitor presented the keynote paper. Panel of discussants included Abdul Muyeed Choudhury, Chairman and CEO Tiger Tours Limited; Masrur Choudhury, Chairman and CEO Nandan Group; Ali Reza Iftekhar, Managing Director and CEO, Eastern Bank Limited and Shyamol Dutta, Editor, Bhorer Kagaz. Manzoorul Ashan Bulbul, Editor-in-Chief and CEO, Baishakhi Media Limited performed the job of moderator.
In his keynote paper, Raquib Siddiqi, Chairman of Monitor Foundation and Chief Editor of The Bangladesh Monitor said in the global services economy, tourism is recognised as one of the major sector. Because, in one hand it is contributing to social and economic development of a country and on the other helping to combat unemployment by creating direct and indirect jobs.
Experts says that tourism can also contribute significantly to rural development, specially in depressed rural areas threatened by the decline of traditional agricultural activities. And it is precisely in rural areas of developing countries where most poor people live.
The income that is generating from current global tourism boom is providing opportunity for increasing national income. And most of the countries of the world irrespective of their level of economic development are active in drawing benefit out of it.
But for reason unknown tourism industry received no recognition in Bangladesh.
All the past governments and policy makers for economic development have ignored tourism. As a result despite having great potentials, Bangladesh is lagging far behind in tourism.
Tourism is a multi-sector industry; consist of a large number of public and private organisations complementary to each other. To coordinate works of these organisations and establish cooperation among them needs strong leadership.
The keynote paper said BPC is not strong enough to coordinate or provide leadership. The weakness of current NTO is standing on the way of planned development of tourism. So, a strong and effective NTO as visualised in the draft of 2008 must be created.
The keynote paper suggested that the government must immediately create a powerful and effective NTO to provide leadership in the industry. The other immediate jobs for the public sector are (1) Improvement of country’s image. (2) Strategy for tourism development. (4) Creation of skilled manpower. (5) Classification of tourist attractions. (6) Creation of tourism products and (7) Marketing of tourism products and publicity campaign.
On the other hand, the private sector must impose discipline in building infrastructure. At present, the development is highly unplanned and detrimental to the environment. So, private sector must strictly follow policy of sustainable development, the keynote paper observed.
Taking part in the discussion Abdul Muyeed Choudhury agreed with the major observations of keynote speaker and called up the government to take appropriate measures to make Bangladesh a global tourist destination. He suggested development of river based tourism.
Masrur Choudhury stressed on the need to develop domestic tourism and safety and security of investment in tourism industry.
Ali Reza Iftekhar suggested creation of a television channel on tourism. He also asked for measures to protect the beauty of Cox’s Bazar beach.
Shyamol Dutta underscored the need to provide priority in development of tourism industry. He also pointed out deteriorating situation in Kuakata.
Participant in the open forum, Managing Director and CEO of Biman Bangladesh Airlines Air Commodore (Retd) M. Zakiul Islam assured that Biman will actively work for the development of tourism
A number of other people came up with suggestions in the open forum that government should do much more for the proper development of tourism.
After the open forum special guest Abdul Karim, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister suggested tying up with Nepal or India for attracting tourist to Bangladesh.
He also suggested encouraging Non-Resident Bangladeshis (NRBs) to invest in tourism.
He underscored the need for sustainable development of tourism relaxation of visa issuance.
Engr Mosharraf Hossain MP, Chairman, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Civil Aviation and Tourism said Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation was created by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as he wanted tourism to flourish. After him, BPC became a dumping ground.
He called for measures to protect Cox’s Bazar and St Martin from misuse by tourists and unplanned development.
Concluding the roundtable discussion GM Quader, Minister for Civil Aviation and Tourism and chief guest, said that to counter negative image, positive image of the country must be projected.
Stressing on the need for developing tourism Quader said this is a kind of industry which will benefit all classes of people.
He said that tourism development has to be in a disciplined, planned and sustainable manner. The government is taking some steps but it takes some time to enact laws. The cabinet has already approved a draft of law which would list and take steps for conservation of different tourism destination.
There will also be a law providing for Exclusive Tourist Zone. We did not have such laws before, he said. Facilities for investment, local or foreign will also be there in the new law.
On the administration of tourism, the minister said it would be divided in to three-(1) Development and Promotion. (2) Execution and Operation; and (3) Regulation of Service Standard. A board is going to be created to perform the job number one. BPC will perform the job number two and ministry will perform the job number three.
Quader said that BPC will be the government wing for execution and operation in tourism sector.
He also informed that there is going to be a authority with responsibility of developing Cox’s Bazar, Teknaf and St Martin?s areas. A municipality is also going to be created for Kuakata.
The minister for Civil Aviation and Tourism said, he is trying for visa on arrival.
The article is uploaded by Majbritt Thomsen, administrator on ‘Views On Tourism’.