TOAB demands “subsidy” for tourism sector to mitigate losses

Tour Operators Association of Bangladesh (TOAB) on Monday demanded subsidies to mitigate losses incurred by the tourism sector due to global coronavirus outbreak.

They came up with the demand at a press conference titled 'Effect of Coronavirus on Bangladesh Tourism Industry and BTTF 2020 at Jatiya Press Club in the capital.

President of the organisation Md Rafeuzzaman said they are facing a big trouble in the sector following the advent of COVID-19 in the peak season

“We have to count huge loss this year due to break down in the tourism sector for the impact of the Corona virus. The sector won't stand again if the government does not help us," he also said.

Rafeuzzaman said China, Japan, Singapore, India and Italy are all major markets for outbound and inbound tourism. Both types of tourists have been hit hard by the Coronavirus. “Our tour operators are suffering more for this. Around 30 percent tourism employees are at risk of unemployment,” he said.

“About 80 percent of Bangladeshi travelers have canceled their tour package tickets in panic of Coronavirus. Their major tourist destinations are in Nepal, Bhutan, Singapore, Thailand and others Asian sites. Similarly, many foreign tourists have also canceled earlier scheduled trips to Bangladesh. So we are at a loss,” he also added.

Rafeuzzaman mentioned some recommendations including to simplify the visa process and low cost, Reducing unnecessary restrictions on ports and airports, Reducing tax on tourists, increasing the allocation for promoting travel spots, reducing tax on airline tickets, providing incentives to tour operators on behalf of the government and Providing bank loans in simple terms to meet the losses.

"The country's airlines will face an economic trouble due to flights with many countries, ' he added.

Citing media reports, he added, ‘Employment for 900 people is created by 100 tourists. Huge number of employees will lay off in the sector following the impact of the virus. So we need assistance from the government."

TOAB president said the 9th Bangladesh Travel and Tourism Fair (BTTF) 2020 will be held from October 29-31 2020 at the Bangabandhu International Conference Center (BICC).

"Although we planned to arrange the fair on April 3-5, 2020 but the schedule has to change following Coronavirus. However, we hope our fair on October 29-31 this year will succeed in due time," he also said.

Chief Executive Officer of Bangladesh Tourism Board Jabed Ahmed said the tourism is an important sector now but mired in trouble globally due to COVID-19.

"We will discuss with other government officials and stakeholders as to how facilities can be provided for the sector," he also said.

Source: United News of Bangladesh