Tourism Sector: Operators incur loss of Tk 1,500cr
Covid-19 related loss to the country's tour operators in the last three months has been around Tk 1500 crore and is likely to shoot up to Tk 6000 crore by the end of this year, said Tour Operator Association of Bangladesh (Toab).
The estimates were presented yesterday in a report titled "Impacts on Bangladesh Tourism and TOAB due to COVID-19", which was later sent to the Bangladesh Tourism Board (BTB).
Toab, a platform of around 700 tour operators of the country, also revealed that they have already been forced to cut 5000 jobs in the last three months since January.
The report was prepared on the basis of a questionnaire answered by its members regarding inbound, outbound and domestic tour package losses, office rent expenses, staff salaries and other expenses.
"After analysing the losses in the last three months, we have estimated that we, the tour operators of Bangladesh, may incur a loss of about Tk 6000 crore this year – from January to December – if the situation does not improve," TOAB President Md Rafeuzzaman told The Daily Star over phone.
Thanking Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for the declaration of her financial package for various service sectors, including tourism, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Toab president requested the government to disburse the loan immediately so that the tour operators can pay salaries and other expenses including office rent.
Earlier on Monday, Toab in a letter to the Civil Aviation and Tourism Ministry said around 40 lakh people are currently employed in the sector which includes tour operators, travel agents, hotels, motels, resorts, airlines, transportation, cruising and tour guide businesses.
In the report, Toab also presented some emergency, short and long term recommendations before the government to save the tourism sector.
The recommendations include VAT waiver and making sufficient allocations for the tourism and hospitality industry for the next three fiscal years.
Toab also suggested the government to create a fund of Taka 500 crore for promotion of tourism at home and abroad as a long-term initiative.
On March 13, the World Travel and Tourism Council said that up to 50 million jobs in the global travel and tourism sector are at risk due to the global COVID-19 outbreak.
The Bangladesh government has already formed a 14-member tourism crisis management committee headed by BTB Chief Executive Officer to find incentives, tourism stakeholders need, to tackle the crisis.
To contain the outbreak, both international and local airlines have been suspending almost all flights to and from Bangladesh, including those with India, Nepal, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman the UK and Turkey.
Replicating travel bans imposed by many countries across the world, since March 16, Bangladesh, too, placed a month-long ban on all travelers from Europe and a number of countries in the Middle East and South Asia.
The government also suspended visa-on-arrival facilities for all nationals entering Bangladesh to stem the virus outbreak.