COVID recovery plan to get focus on World Tourism Day tomorrow

DHAKA, Sept 26, 2020 (BSS) – The World Tourism Day will be celebrated in Bangladesh tomorrow like elsewhere in the world focusing on recovery plan of the country’s tourism sector, that was wreaked by the COVID-19 pandemic alike the entire global travel and leisure arena.

The government and different organisations have chalked out various programmes through virtual platform due to the pandemic in all districts to celebrate the World Tourism Day with the global theme ‘Tourism and Rural Development’.

“This year our major objective is to make people aware about following the health guideline as per our Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), made for all reopened tourist spots and accommodation,” said state minister for civil aviation and tourism M Mahbub Ali at a virtual press briefing on the eve of the day.

The state minister said his ministry has already sent the written SOP to authorities of all tourist spots and hotel and motels while the deputy commissioners (DC) were instructed to monitor proper implementation of the guideline so that people can enjoy their leisure without getting affected by the novel coronavirus.

No rally or public gathering will be seen on the day of celebration this year due to the pandemic whereas the ministry along with its Bangladesh Tourism Board (BTB) and Bangladesh Paryatan Corporation (BPC) will organize virtual discussions on the theme.

Besides, all 64 district administrations will hold virtual meetings with local tourism related stakeholders and organize art and easy competition on this year’s theme.

Ali said the government has taken preparation to promote and facilitate domestic tourism as regional and international outbound tour operation has been suspended due to ongoing global restrictions for the tourists.

The state minister said a number of tourist spots have already been reopened and the rest will resume operations gradually.

He said this year’s tourism day’s theme – tourism and rural development – has coincided with Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s vision of – turning villages into towns.

Tourism could be the key player helping the implementation of the Prime Minister’s vision to create urban amenities at the villages, he added.

He said the tourism sector has unique ability to drive economic development and provide opportunities outside of big cities, including in those communities that would otherwise be left behind.

Senior secretary of Civil Aviation and Tourism Secretary M Mohibul Haque and CEO of Bangladesh Tourism Board (BTB) M Jabed Ahmed were also present at the briefing.

Mentioning that every year around five lakh Bangladeshi tourists visit different countries, Haque said this outbound tourist traffic would not be able to go abroad this year and this created a huge opportunity for the country’s domestic tourism sector.

“We are expecting huge domestic tourist movements this year … keep this in mind, we have advised all stakeholders to take proper preparation to facilitate them (tourists),” he said.

He said the tourism ministry has been maintaining close communication with local government ministry to improve road communications with different rural tourist spots across the country.

Haque said the ministry has already instructed the DCs of the districts having haor areas to facilitate tourists as currently huge visitors from across the country have been seen making boat trips there to enjoy scenic view of haors.

He said tourist police have been alerted to ensure proper security for the tourists ranging from the country’s popular destinations to rural spots.

On the eve of the day, President M Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina issued separate messages wishing success of all the programmes of the day.

In his message, the President said, “Tourism industry has established itself as the single largest service sector in the world due to its multidimensionality and scope and it plays a very important role in improving the living standards of the rural population.”

The tourism sector has significant contribution to the national economy including job creation, he said, adding that the World Tourism Organization has put emphasis on involving the rural population in the tourism industry to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“I hope that with proper planning, efficient resource management and involvement of local people, Bangladesh will be able to reach the pinnacle of the development of tourism industry,” the President said.

Underscoring the need for presenting the country’s tourism industry effectively in the world arena, Hamid urged all, including government and non-government organizations, to work together for the development of the tourism industry as well as for the national economic development upholding local culture, traditions and values.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said, “Tourism has a huge potentiality in Bangladesh. Of late, it has emerged as an important sector of economic development with more and more domestic and foreign tourists are visiting the country’s tourists’ destinations.”

Noting that huge employment opportunities are being created in the sector, Sheikh Hasina said the present Awami League government has relentlessly been working for the development of tourism sector and taken various steps to manage tourism activities through proper management maintaining the country’s culture, heritage and ecology.

Underscoring the need for making the tourist destinations introduced to local and foreign tourists through mass media, she urged the private entrepreneurs to supplement the government efforts in flourishing the sector.

The BTB and BPC will hold two separate virtual seminars on this year’s theme at 10 am and 3 pm respectively tomorrow with the participation of the ministry’s state minister, senior secretaries and tourism stakeholders.

Since 1980, the United Nations World Tourism Organisation has been celebrating World Tourism Day as an international observance on September 27.

This date was chosen as on that day in 1970, the Statutes of the UNWTO were adopted.

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