Monday, June 22, 2009

Budget to have tourism fund for first time

For the first time in the country’s history, the upcoming budget for 2009-10 fiscal scheduled to be announced on June 11 is going to have a fund for the promotion and development of tourism.
‘There will be a fund for tourism in the budget for the first time since independence. The money will be spent for the promotion and development of the country’s tourism,’ MA Muhaimin Saleh, the president of the Association of Travel Agents of Bangladesh, told New Age.
‘During a recent meeting with finance minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhit, we proposed for a block allocation of Tk 200 crore. And, the minister agreed saying that it was a good proposal,’ he added.
The ATAB president said in order to create employment for unemployed youths, there is no alternative to making Bangladesh tourism industry attractive.
This can be done through different initiatives like vigorous campaign, participating in tourism fair across the world, advertisement on the international media highlighting Bangladesh and its attractive tourist spots and facilitating tour operators from other countries to know the tourist spots, he added.
To achieve these objectives, the ATAB along with Tour Operators Association of Bangladesh made the proposal of block allocation of Tk 200 crore, which will help country’s tourism as well as recession-hit travel agents, Saleh said.
He observed that though the tourist spots in Bangladesh are naturally richer than those in the tourism developed countries like Nepal, Thailand and Malaysia, they could not attract tourists due to poor communication network, lack of standard hotel and sense of insecurity.
Citing an instance, the ATAB president said that if ancient sites relating to Buddhism could be developed and promoted, huge number of tourists from countries like China, Japan would come.
He also suggested on arrival visas for attracting tourists to Bangladesh.
About Bangladesh Biman, Saleh said tourism and the national flag carrier are the two sides of a coin and it is one of the major sources of promoting tourism in a country.
‘For the promotion of tourism, the national carriers of tourist-developed countries offer different promotion packages. But, in my vast experience as a travel agent I have never seen Biman taking any initiative to promote tourism,’ he said.
The ATAB chief said the image of Biman has been totally tarnished due to rampant corruption, misappropriation and poor administration. ‘The reputation of Biman has gone to such a level that lot of foreigners do not use it.’
‘The lost image of Biman has to be restored as a pre-requisite to promote tourism in Bangladesh,’ he added.
Saleh said country’s missions abroad have a major role to play for the promotion of tourism.

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