Bangladesh missions abroad need to play a ‘stronger role’ in promoting tourism in the country and the government should open tourism wings, if necessary, at all missions to make that happen, says tour operators.
They want the government to centrally instruct all the missions abroad in this regard to help boost the sector as it has ‘huge potential’ to contribute to the national economy in a bigger way.
‘Bangladesh missions abroad have a big role to play. Bangladesh Tourism Board doesn’t have its foreign wings. So, we need tourism wings in Bangladesh missions abroad,’ Taufiq Rahman, director of Tour Operators Association of Bangladesh, told the news agency.
He said now the commercial counselors of the foreign missions perform the tasks related to tourism sector which is inadequate given the performance of the last 15-20 years.
‘Either the commercial counselors will have to be given additional responsibilities to look into tourism issues or tourism wings must be opened,’ Taufiq, also chief executive of Journey Plus, said.
He said there have been much positive changes after Holey Artisan incident but he expressed doubt about how much the tourist generating-countries like the USA, Japan, Australia, the UK, France and other countries know about those positive developments.
‘Let them (foreign tourists) know about Bangladesh deeply. Foreign missions can arrange weekly or monthly briefings on tourism potential,’ he added.
Asked about the role of the missions abroad, a senior diplomat said all the Bangladesh missions abroad are aware of their duties and responsibilities entrusted upon them by the government of Bangladesh and they abide by that.
‘Promoting tourism in the host country is also part of that responsibility,’ said the diplomat wishing to remain unnamed.
Talking to the news agency, a government official said a study should be carried on the deviations by the Bangladesh missions abroad to know whether there is any negligence.
‘But to value the general perception, the missions which work with sincerity and commitment should not be penalised,’ he said.
Tour operators also want the government to focus on formulating a forward-looking effective tourism policy, which could be a thriving sector of Bangladesh.
An official said all the missions are doing their best to promote Bangladesh’s tourism sector, including its art, culture, history, tradition and heritage.
‘The role of Bangladesh missions is important but it cannot do anything alone, without the proper support and cooperation from the headquarters,’ he added.
A government official said Bangladesh should consider high quality tourism documentaries and movies and participate in international tourism fairs to attract more foreign tourists.
TOAB advisor M Masud Hossain said a number of ministries, including the Finance and Foreign, are linked with the tourism sector.
‘So, it won’t be wise to think that Bangladesh Tourism Board will alone bear the responsibility of a sensitive sector like tourism,’ he said in his recent paper.
He laid emphasis on making the Bangladesh missions abroad more tourism-friendly ones.
Data shows some 620,000 foreign tourists visited Bangladesh in 2016 though the government set a target of attracting one million tourists.
Bangladesh earned 163.21 million US dollars from the tourism sector in 2016 calendar year against 145.74 million US dollars in 2015.
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