New hotels to get duty benefit for importing equipment
The revenue authority is set to boost the local tourism industry by allowing the import of capital goods at concessional duties to encourage the establishment of plush hotels.
The move is expected to attract more investment in setting up world standard hotels at popular destinations, which will help attract more foreign tourists.
"We want to provide the benefit to facilitate development of the tourism industry. It will help create much needed jobs," said Md Farid Uddin, member of customs policy, statistics and research at the National Board of Revenue.
The NBR took the decision at a board meeting early this month following applications by investors to set up luxury hotels in Dhaka, Cox's Bazar and Sylhet.
The NBR received five applications for concessionary duty privileges to import capital goods for the hotels -- Sea Pearl Beach Resort and Spa Ltd in Cox's Bazar, Radisson Bay View Hotel in Chittagong; Hotel La Rose in Sylhet; Unique Hotel and Resorts Ltd (Unique-2), Premier Hotel Management Co Ltd and Hilton in Dhaka.
The revenue authority later formed a three-member panel to place a report by examining the present duty on importable or imported capital goods for setting up hotels.
In the budget for fiscal 2013-14, the government slashed the duty on a bundle of equipment used for recreational adventure sports like scuba diving, paragliding and kite surfing, to give a lift to the growing sector.
The duty cut is also applicable to swimming accessories, camping and hiking tents, mountain climbing materials, hot air balloons, surfing boats, water bikes, jet skis, house boats, bowling items and pool tables.
The number of foreign tourists visiting Bangladesh is rising and it is becoming important to create amenities for them by increasing investment in the sector, said the NBR official.
However, investors in luxury hotels will be able to enjoy a concessionary duty benefit only once for importing fire detection and protection equipment, items for health club, kitchen and cooking, building security systems, machinery for electric sub-station and pre-fabricated building structures, said officials.
To enjoy the facility, investors will have to apply to NBR along with certificates from the tourism ministry to ensure that the hotels are built meeting international standards.
Copies of agreements with global hotel chains will also be required if the duty benefit seeking hotel is a franchisee, according to officials.
Over the years, tourism has expanded on the back of a burgeoning middle-class, who frequently travel to tourist spots at home and abroad. Investment in the sector, including establishment of hotels and resorts, has also increased.
The travel and tourism sector in Bangladesh accounted for 2.1 percent of GDP, according to a report by World Travel and Tourism Council.