To halt the spread of the coronavirus outbreak, the government has recently formed a crisis management team for the travel industry of the country. A good number of industry experts are working to identify the possible measure to safeguard the industry.
Bangladesh Tourism Board (BTB) Chief Executive Officer Jabed Ahmed said this at a press briefing held at National Press Club in the city recently. The press meet was organised by Tour Operators Association of Bangladesh (TOAB) to address the effects of COVID-19 on Bangladesh’s tourism industry.
To contain the outbreak, both international and local airlines have cut several flights to and from Bangladesh to many destinations worldwide including Kuwait, Qatar and India. The country also suspended flights to and from Europe, except the UK, said Md Rafeeuzzaman, President, TOAB.
The government further banned visa-on-arrival for all countries. It will also bar entry from those countries who have banned arrivals from Bangladesh which include India, Nepal, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait, he added.
“China, Japan, Singapore, India and Italy are big markets for outbound and inbound tourism. Both markets are suffering over coronavirus outbreak. As a result, tour operators are facing the most damage,” mentioned Rafee.
He further noted that almost 80 per cent Bangladeshi travellers cancelled their tour packages and air tickets to Asia’s prominent travel destinations such as Nepal, Bhutan, Singapore, Thailand and others over coronavirus concern.
Similarly, several scheduled tours to Bangladesh have been cancelled by foreign tourists, Rafee claimed.
According to World Tourism and Travel Council, the coronavirus pandemic is risking jobs of five crore people worldwide. World travel may also shrink 25 per cent, the council also reported. To save the dampened travel industry from the harmful effects of the coronavirus outbreak, TOAB proposed a few recommendations to the Chief Executive of BTB at the press meet.
The recommendations are as follows: offer convenient visa facility at low cost, relax unnecessary restrictions at airports, lower tourist tax, increase allocation for travel destination promotion, decrease tax on air tickets, provide incentive to tour operators and grant bank loans at on easy terms.
The CEO of BTB ensured that the crisis management team would go through the recommendations mentioned thoroughly and propose them to the government as soon as possible. Other officials of BTB and TOAB along with industry stakeholders were also present at the press conference.