Mahfuja Mukul” After analysing the overall impact of coronavirus on tourism, estimated that the country’s losses would be around Tk 97.05 billion till June this year. As per that estimation the total loss may exceed Tk 180 billion by the end of 2020. Although domestic tourism resumed from September, it made no significant improvement.
Khandaker Zahirul Alam started up Meghdoot Tourism in 2010 after graduating in Tourism and Hospitality Management from the University of Dhaka. His company provided services beyond the border to several countries. However his business stalled due to the recent global outbreak of novel coronavirus.
Zahirul had to close his Gulshan office due to the crisis. He opened another office in Malibagh on a small scale recently.
A total of 678 companies like Meghdoot formed the Tour Operators Association of Bangladesh (TOAB). The members of the association have been supporting each other in different ways since the pandemic broke out. United Nation’s World Tourism Organisation reported around 105 billion people travelled to different countries around the world last year. The number decreased by 65 per cent, almost 440 million tourists, in the first six months of this year.
According to TOAB, its members incurred losses of Tk 57 billion. However, Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) said that the sector has recorded losses of almost Tk 180 billion this year due to the pandemic.
United Nation’s World Tourism Organisation reported around 105 billion people travelled to different countries around the world last year. The number decreased by 65 per cent, almost 440 million tourists, in the first six months of this year. The sector lost almost US$ 46 billion worldwide. The loss is 5 times higher than the losses counted during the recession in 2009.
Associate professor Santosh Kumar Deb of DU’s Tourism and Hospitality Management department has been analysing the impact of coronavirus on the country’s tourism sector. He told Daily Industry, “The sector may see 85 per cent less income this year that may result in a loss of around Tk 180 to Tk 200 billion.
PATA Bangladesh secretary general Tawfiq Rahman told that TOAB members do not earn much from domestic tourism. About 80 to 90 per cent of such tourists travel without tour operators. Foreigners will not come for now, nor will domestic tourists go abroad. So there is no possibility of income in the winter travel season.
The Tourism Board is working to involve the rural people in tourism and create awareness among them
TOAB said tourism has stopped since January 2019 even though the outbreak began in March. Most of the people who are traveling inside the country now do not use any tour operator’s service. There is no hope for the tourism sector before next June.
The secretary general of PATA Bangladesh sees no way but to wait till 2022. He said, importance should be given to tourism with regional and border countries along with local tourism.
TOAB president Rafeuzzaman told that the owners have been selling their property to meet expenses. They have to pay their skilled workers. Despite repeated appeals, they are not getting any assistance or funds from the government.
Mazharul H Bhuiyan, secretary general of the organisation of travel agencies involved in ticketing, Association of Travel Agents of Bangladesh (ATAB), told that some airlines have been operating in a very limited range. There are no signs that business will return to normal soon, he added.
State minister for Civil Aviation and Tourism, Mahbub Ali, at an online press conference recently said the stimulus package announced by the prime minister had a Tk 200 billion allocation for the service sector.
“The tourism sector is also under its purview. Businesspersons have to take loans from banks,” he added.
He also said that the Tourism Board is working to involve the rural people in tourism and create awareness among them.