Rashed Khan Menon, civil aviation and tourism minister, and Kazi Wahidul Alam, chairman of Dhaka Travel Mart 2015, visit a stall at the fair organised by Bangladesh Monitor, a travel publication, at Sonargaon Hotel in the capital yesterday. Photo: Triune
The government aims to increase foreign tourist arrivals by 70 percent to 10 lakh by 2016 by undertaking a series of promotional activities starting in October.
“We will mark 2016 as Tourism Year in a bid to help boost Bangladesh’s tourism sector,” said Rashed Khan Menon, minister for civil aviation and tourism.
Menon spoke at the inauguration of an international tourism fair — Dhaka Travel Mart 2015 – that was organised by Bangladesh Monitor, a travel publication, at Sonargaon Hotel in Dhaka Yesterday. Bangladesh has immense potential in attracting travellers, due to its rich cultural heritage and famous tourist spots, such as Cox’s Bazar and the Sundarbans, he said.
Menon said his ministry will focus on health and religious tourism. The country has several religious sites for Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists, he said. “The number of tourists will obviously increase if we can develop such sites.”
Last year, 5.94 lakh tourists came to the country, according to industry insiders.
In addition, health tourism would be another exciting prospect for tourists, especially from Nepal and Bhutan, he said. “Many patients from Nepal and Bhutan are coming to Bangladesh for better treatment.”
The minister also asked the national carrier Biman to develop attractive travel packages so that people from the neighbouring countries and non-resident Bangladeshis visit the country.
As part of the promotional campaign, the government will hold a regional tourism conference in October in Bangladesh, inviting participants from countries, such as India, Cambodia, Malaysia, Nepal and Bhutan, said Khurshed Alam Chowdhury, civil aviation and tourism secretary.
Taleb D Rifai, secretary-general of World Tourism Organisation, is expected to attend the regional conference.
Chowdhury said his ministry has already sought the opinions of all stakeholders to develop tourism products.
Kyle Haywood, managing director of Biman Bangladesh Airlines, stressed the need to develop domestic tourism for higher economic growth.
Growth of domestic tourism has a multiplier effect on the economy as it benefits different sectors such hotels, airlines and small businesses, he added.
In bids to promote local tourism, Biman has increased its seat capacity by 80 percent on seven domestic routes, said Haywood.
Some 50 organisations from home and abroad, including national tourism organisations, airlines, tour operators and hotel and resort operators are participating in the three day-fair that began yesterday.
“This fair is happening at an appropriate time as the country’s political environment has recently improved,” said Kazi Wahidul Alam, chairman of the Dhaka Travel Mart 2015.
Around 15,000 people are expected to visit the fair that will remain open from 10am to 8pm at an entry fee of Tk 25, he added.
Spending by domestic tourists is expected to grow about 6 percent year-on-year in 2015 to Tk 51,770 crore, World Travel and Tourism Council said in its latest study.
In 2014, local tourist spending grew 5.35 percent year-on-year, which is lower than the London-based research organisation’s projection of 7 percent then. Travel and tourism contributed Tk 29,660 crore, or 1.9 percent, to the country’s gross domestic product last year.
The peak tourism season in Bangladesh starts in November and lasts through March. However, the prolonged blockades and strikes since early January have already hit the sector hard.
Ayon is a creative a guy who is a travel freak. He loves to explore the world around him and besides pursuing his graduation from University of Dhaka, he is working as a content ninja for Travelindream