Allow tourist spots to reopen at half capacity, Toab demands
Tour Operators Association of Bangladesh (Toab) today demanded reopening of tourist spots at half capacity and in compliance with health safety measures to save several lakh people involved in the sector, saying it incurred losses equalling Tk 20,000 crore in the last year due to the pandemic.
"Since the government has opened transport, shops and everything else on condition of complying with the health rules, we demand to reopen the tourist spots on the condition of complying with the health rules and standard operational procedure," Toab president Md Rafeuzzaman said at a press conference at the Jatiya Press Club.
Rafeuzzaman, also a member of the governing body of Bangladesh Tourism Board, said tourism added 4.4 percent to the GDP in 2019. Due to the pandemic, the tourism sector had to incur a loss of around Tk 20,000 crore last year. About four million people involved in the industry are now going through untold hardship.
"After the first wave of Covid-19, Bangladesh's tourism industry was trying to recover some damage through domestic tourism, but due to the second wave of coronavirus, Bangladesh's tourism industry again fell into serious uncertainty," he said.
Rafeuzzaman said Toab members incurred a loss of Tk 5,700 crore in the last year.
"If the current situation is extended till December this year, the loss [to Toab members] could be more than Tk 9,000 crore," he added.
The Toab president said many tour operators are frustrated due to this sorry state and have been forced to leave their business.
"We have been demanding incentives for tour operators and everyone involved in the tourism industry since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic last year, but the government did not respond to our demand," said the Toab president.
He said in his budget speech, the finance minister spoke about development of tourism industry but did not give any direction on how to get the sector out of the financial crisis due to this pandemic.
Rafeuzzaman made a five-point demand to save the country's tourism industry. The demands include reopening of tourist spots as soon as possible on condition of operating at 50 percent tourism capacity.
He also strongly demanded for incentives for tour operators.
"Otherwise, several lakh people involved in this industry will become unemployed. As a result, the tourism industry will suffer a terrible loss," he also said.
The Toab boss also demanded that trade license renewal fees for next year be waived.