Govt to give incentive to tour operators in next budget: Faruk KhanStaff Correspondent
The civil aviation and tourism minister, Faruk Khan, on Saturday gave an assurance for adequate budgetary allocation for the tourism industry and tax incentive for tourist vehicle import in the budget for the 2012–13 financial year.
‘We have already submitted proposals to the finance ministry and hope that they will be incorporated in the budget,’ he said.
The minister gave the assurance at a pre-budget discussion organised in a city hotel by the Tour Operators’ Association of Bangladesh.
Faruk said that a tax rebate would be given to tour operators for tourist vehicle import. ‘But you need to make sure that the incentive is not misused because such practice tightens bureaucracy.’
He also said that an online payment system for tour operators should be put in place. ‘I will talk to the Bangladesh Bank governor on the matter and hope that the issue could be resolved.’
‘We will attend 15 international fairs in the next financial year to promote our country. The Bangladesh Tourism Board will provide the operators all necessary help,’ Faruk said after the operators had demeaned full government support for branding Bangladesh to the outside world.
He also said that the government has already allocated fund for the Tourism Board for conducting a data survey that will help gather information and make efficient planning.
‘The development of the tourism should be in keeping with its cultural acceptance,’ Faruk said.
‘We understand that foreign visitors need some facilities in keeping with their culture. We have already selected some areas in Cox’s Bazar and Kuakata to build special tourist zones which will be equipped with the required infrastructure and other facilities for them,’ he added.
The association president, Hasan Mansur, who presented the keynote paper, said that only Tk 66.52 crore was allocated in the last budget against a demand for Tk 257 crore for the Bangladesh Tourism Board.
He said that a major portion of the allocation had remained unused because of inconsistent planning and bureaucratic tangles. ‘A long-term planning should be the priority to develop the industry,’ Hasan Mansur said.
He also said that the required data for research and planning were not available as the government does not have adequate information.
‘The inefficiency of the Tourism Board is a major obstacle which is compounding other problems,’ Mansur also said.
He also said that the country had received Tk 576 crore in 2009 from tourist who visited Bangladesh while Tk 1,814 was spent by Bangladeshis who went aboard.
‘The operators should focus on local tourists to develop the industry,’ the New Age editor, Nurul Kabir, said.
‘The country has developed a middle-class that can afford better tourism as the people have developed a need. So, focusing on local visitors should be one of the priority,’ Kabir, also the moderator of the session, said.
The president of Workers Party of Bangladesh, Rashed Khan Menon, who is a lawmaker, said foreign tourists would not increase unless domestic tourism is flourished.
He said that they would raise the issue of development sector of tourism in the parliament.
Speakers at the discussion said that policy inconsistency about tourism industry because of a shuffle of the government also held back the industry for a long time.
Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal president, Hasanul Haque Inu and BTB chief executive officer Aktaruzzaman were, present among, others.
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