Staff Correspondent: Travel and tourism service providers here has urged the government to place a specific incentive guidelines to support the country’s entire aviation and leisure industry as the ongoing global travel stalemate due to COVID-19 pandemic sent the sector into tailspin.
“The way the government approached incentives for the garment sector and remittances, the same approach needs to be applied for the aviation and tourism sector,” Association of Travel Agents of Bangladesh (ATAB) past president S N Manzur Murshed told yesterday.
Mentioning that aviation and tourism sector as the country’s largest service industry with 4 million employees, he said “owners of this sector in Bangladesh have to incur more than Tk 100 crore daily losses” due to COVID-19 pandemic.
He said the global aviation sector is losing 1.2 billion US dollars or Tk 10,200 crore in a day and it is estimated that all components of tourism like tour operators, travel agents, hotels, motels, resorts, restaurants, airlines, tourist transports, cruise and guides face as high as 3 billion dollars or Tk 25,500 per day losses globally.
“Our honorable Prime Minister has already said aviation and tourism sectors are affected. So, now specific and comprehensive plan need to be taken,” said Monzur, also a former Member of Bangladesh tourism Board.
He said as a representative of ATAB, he has recently submitted a letter to the Civil Aviation and Tourism Ministry to draw the kind attention of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to take required initiatives as soon as possible for the Aviation and Tourism Sector.
He said emergency support is required from Prime minister for the aviation and tourism sector as coronavirus has direct impact on the tourism industry.
Pointing that the holy month of Ramadan and Eid Ul Fitr are nearby, he said “during this time, staff salaries and other ancillary expenses are there, also we have to take care of their families as well”.
Earlier, Tour Operator Association of Bangladesh (TOAB), a platform of 678 tour operators of Bangladesh, estimated their loss by conducting a survey titled “Impacts on Bangladesh Tourism and TOAB due to COVID-19”.
“After analyzing the losses from January to March this year, we have estimated that we, the tour operators of Bangladesh, may loss nearly Tk 6000 crore this year – from January to December – if the situation does not improve,” TOAB president Md Rafeuzzaman said.
Besides, The PATA (Pacific Asia Travel Association) Bangladesh chapter has predicted that overall Bangladesh tourism sector will incur a loss of approximately Tk 9,705 crore of business till June 2020 due to outbreak of COVID 19 pandemic.
“We have estimated the turnover of entire tourism sector from February to next June 2020… and as our total business is now shut down, we are going to lose the entire business of Tk 9,705 crore,” Secretary General of PATA Bangladesh Chapter Taufiq Rahman said.
The body also urged the government to allocate taka 1000 crore for hotels, motels, resorts, restaurants, tour operators, tourist vehicles and vessels and private airlines as well as make a provision of providing Tk 2000 crore as interest free loan as a loss recovery package for the tourism sector.
On March 13, the World Travel and Tourism Council said that up to 50 million jobs in the global travel and tourism sector are at risk due to the global COVID-19 outbreak.
Prime minister Sheikh Hasina is keeping a sharp eye on the situation evolved for the coronavirus pandemic and has been taking measures whatever necessary to protect Bangladesh from its onslaught.
Under the measures, the Prime Minister has announced various stimulus packages involving Taka 95,619 crore which is 3.3 percent of the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) to offset the possible adverse impact on the economy due to the nationwide shutdown declared for the coronavirus pandemic.
The financial stimulus packages are: Tk 30,000 crore as working capital for the affected industries and service sectors; Tk 20,000 crore as working capital for very small, small and medium enterprises; Tk 12,750 crore to increase the advantages for Export Development Fund (EDF); Tk 5,000 crore under the Pre-shipment Credit Refinance Scheme and Tk 5000 crore as special fund for the export oriented industries.
The aviation and tourism sector has been included in the Prime Minister’s financial stimulus packages while the government also formed a 14-member tourism crisis management committee headed by the Bangladesh Tourism Board (BTB) CEO to find the kind of incentives the tourism stakeholders need to tackle the crisis.
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