Tour operators urge govt to reopen tourist spots
Country's tour operators urged the government to reopen tourist spots to safeguard four million jobs as tour planners are fearing a loss of around Taka 9,000 crore, if tourism lockdown continues till December next.
"Since the government has opened transport, shops and everything else, we think it is reasonable to reopen tourist spots as well on condition of compliance with health rules and SOP (Standard Operational Procedure)," said Md Rafeuzzaman, president of Tour Operator Association of Bangladesh (TOAB) at the Jatiya Press Club on Thursday.
He was addressing a post-budget press conference, organised by TOAB, where the apex body of the country's tour operators placed five-point demand to the government for recovering travel industry which has been hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rafeuzzaman said while Bangladesh's tourism industry was trying to recover some damages of the sector with domestic tourism after the first wave of coronavirus, but it again fell into a dire uncertainty due to the second wave.
He said the tourism sector has incurred a loss of Tk 20,000 crore due to Coronavirus in 2020 whereas only TOAB's members counted a loss of Taka 5,700 crore.
"If the current situation is extended till December 2021, the amount of loss could be more than Tk 9,000 crore," he said.
He said about four million people involved in this industry are now living in hardship as many of them are facing job cut and some were compelled to move to another business.
Mentioning that in the proposed budget, Tk 4,032 crore has been allocated for this sector, he said "This allocation is very small for the development of the tourism industry in the current context".
Apart from reopening the tourists' spots, TOAB demanded incentives for tour operators to save jobs of several lakh people involved in tourism industry.
They also demanded waiving their trade license renewal fees for the next year as well as to provide COVID-19 vaccines to all manpower involving in the tourism sector for protecting the tourists from the pandemic.
BSS adds: The TOAB leaders also made a strong demand to the government for individual ministry for tourism for proper development of the country's travel and leisure industry.
TOAB director (Media and Publications) Mohammad Shahed Ullah presented the written statement while First Vice President Shiblul Azam Koreshi and Vice President Abul Kalam Azad also addressed the press conference, among others.
Apart from TOAB, leaders of regional tour operator association of Kuakata Sundarbans Cox's Bazar and Aviation and Tourism Journalists' Forum of Bangladesh (ATJFB) and different hotel owners association also spoke on the occasion.