The tourism and hospitality sector of Bangladesh needs policy support from the government to boost its contribution to the economy, said sector people yesterday.
“We are ready to provide world-class hospitality and tourism facilities. We need policy support from the government,” said HM Hakim Ali, chairperson of the Bangladesh International Hotel Association (BIHA).
He said people have no idea about the contribution of the sector – it broadens the country's image globally.
His comments were backed by Masud A Khan, chairman of the Better Bangladesh Foundation (BBF).
“At least 13 people directly benefit from a tourist, so it is too easy to calculate the contribution of the sector.”
They spoke on the first day of the “Food and Hospitality Bangladesh Expo 2019” at the International Convention City Bashundhara in the capital. The BIHA and the Wem Bangladesh Limited jointly organised the three-day event.
The tourism and hospitality sector directly and indirectly accounts for 8.5 percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP), according to sector players.
The sector has huge potential to flourish along with other sectors, they said. Ali said only the private sector can bring significant change to the tourism sector through food and hospitality.
He gave the example of Thailand and Nepal where the major revenue for the governments comes from the tourism sector.
According to Ali, global chains of hotels are eying the Bangladesh market and are operating five-star hotels in the country. “This indicates that the country has good opportunity to grow the sector.” BBF's Khan suggested the government be more liberal about the sector to attract foreign tourists.
Land Minister Saifuzza-man Chowdhury, who inaugurated the exposition, said: “Without the private sector, the tourism sector will not advance in Bangladesh. The sector can unfold the natural beauty of Bangladesh through hospitality and food.”
Akhtaruz Zaman Khan Kabir, chairman of the Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation, and Mohd Noor Ali, managing director of Unique Group, were also present. Around 70 exhibitors from seven countries including India, Thailand, Malaysia, China, Italy, Spain and Bangladesh are taking part in the fair.