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POST TIME: 1 March, 2021 06:50:28 PM
What is the future of tourism in Bangladesh?
Tourists have started going to different places. The problem is that hygiene is not being followed. To some extent, there has been improvement in the country's domestic tourism sector. Since the end of last year, many people have been affected in this sector.
Dr. Forqan Uddin Ahmed

What is the future of tourism in Bangladesh?

The tourist spots of Bangladesh were isolated for a long time due to the Covid-19 epidemic. The tourism related institutions, which were closed from March 18, were reopened on a trial basis on August 17. Tourism was supposed to be active on a limited scale subject to hygiene, but tourists are doing their activities in full swing. However, the incoming tourists are indifferent to the hygiene rules.
Bangladesh Tourism Board has prepared travel and tourism guidelines for Covid-19 period even before the start of travel. The guideline to be followed has been made 'mandatory' for the parties concerned. The first of the 13 chapters of the guide deals with what tourists should do. In order to travel in Bangladesh, tourists from home and abroad have to follow 23 sections of this chapter. According to Bangladesh Tourism Board, directives have been formulated on the basis of the guidelines of the United Nations Tourism Organization (UNWTO) and the World Health Organization, 12-point hygiene regulations of the Ministry of Health and Family Planning, opinions, research and statistics of public and private organizations.
In addition to conventional hygiene rules, tourists have been encouraged to online booking and payment to prevent infection. Again, in the case of the citizens of the countries who get the visa facility after arrival, it has been emphasized to bring the visa from the country to avoid the hassle of getting the arrival visa by standing in line. Foreign tourists must submit their travel history and subsequent travel plans to tour operators before arriving in Bangladesh. Tourist from abroad are also urged to ensure travel schedule and health insurance before booking to get travel services. They also have to take responsibility for keeping the medical report or health certificate or PCR report or certificate to the effect that there is no Covid-19.
The Tourism Board has also advised tourists in the country to be aware of general health care before traveling and to be sure about the availability of health care equipment wherever they go. Article 10 states that hotels, restaurants, local transport, guides, souvenir shops, and tourist attractions must comply with the Covid-19 code of conduct. In order to avoid crowds and complications while traveling, travel schedule should be confirmed in advance.
Overseas tourists are encouraged to travel short or family trips instead of group trips. There are instructions to inform travel agents and other service providers of emergency contact numbers or location addresses and if there are any allergies or health problems before or during the trip. Emergency medicines, prescriptions, adequate cash, credit cards, clothing, reading materials, indoor sports equipment, umbrellas, raincoats, caps are also required to make travel safe and enjoyable. Tourists are again asked to request service providers and attendance to use masks, caps, personal hand sanitizers, leg push waste bins, etc. during the trip. At the end of the trip, foreign tourists must undergo a health check-up and leave Bangladesh with a certificate. At the domestic level, the tourism sector is now trying to turn around.
Tourists have started going to different places. The problem is that hygiene is not being followed. To some extent, there has been improvement in the country's domestic tourism sector. Since the end of last year, many people have been affected in this sector. Many of those involved with 2,000 tourism organizations have lost their jobs. Flights are now better on domestic airlines. Passenger transports are sufficient, but not so much aware of hygiene. However, flights in the international sector are being canceled. It has not been introduced in many countries. The decision of the Civil Aviation Authority to operate the flight is positive. However, foreign airlines are operating more flights than domestic airlines.
Tourist spots are crowded with tourists on weekends and holidays. Recently, all the beach hotels, motels, cottages and guest houses have been filled. Tourism companies are trading hundreds of cores of rupees a month even in difficult times. If this trend continues, traders are likely to make up the loss due to Covid-19. Tourists of all ages have gathered to the beach from early morning on Fridays and Saturdays. However, the majority of tourists do not follow the hygiene rules. Even after this, the tourism officials are busy to provide comfortable services to the tourists. The tourists, district police and district administration are working round the clock to ensure security. Incoming tourists are going to see the beaches as well as the tourist spots of the district including Darianagar, Himchhari waterfall, rocky beach of Inani, Ramu Buddhist monastery, Maheshkhali Adinath temple.
According to the Cox's Bazar Hotel-Guest House Owners' Association, there are more than four and a half hundred hotels, motels, resorts and cottages in Cox's Bazar, where more than a lac of tourists can stay. About one hundred thousand of tourists are staying in Cox's Bazar even during the weekly holidays. The star hotels are doing a great business with 100% bookings. According to the Cox's Bazar Beach Management Committee, the tourists and the district police are on high alert to ensure the service of the incoming tourists. In fact, tourists are not following their instructions. Additional police were also deployed due to the increase of tourists during the weekly holidays. Tourist spots have been brought under CCTV cameras to prevent harassment of tourists. Although publicity through mike is done regularly to prevent Covid-19  infections, most tourists do not wear masks.
Instructions were given earlier to hang up price lists in hotels, motels and restaurants to stop harassment of tourists. Information centers have been set up at 11 points including Laboni, Sugandha and Kalatali. Several restaurants and hotels have been fined. Awareness through miking and mobile courts are being conducted to prevent Covid-19  infections. Police are always on alert for the safety of tourists. In order to prevent tourists from being subjected to any kind of unwanted harassment, a large number of men and women police in plain clothes and tourist attire are also patrolling the beach. According to the Tourist Police Cox’s Bazar Zone, there are adequate police personnel deployed in the beach area for the safety of tourists. The entire beach, including the control room and observation tower, is under police surveillance. But tourists are ignoring everything. Nothing is going to explain to them the horrors of the Corona epidemic.
The government is applying all out efforts to control Corona. Although the infection rate is below 5 percent, mismanagement is easily visible in tourist spots. For example, when people go to the beach, if the mask gets wet, they will take it off on the way to the restaurant. Therefore, there is a risk. Since the beach is open, the risk is higher in restaurants or shopping places. In that case, it has not been confirmed how many people will be able to come to these places. The waiters in the restaurant have to wear masks, but it is not being obeyed to keep the dining tables at a distance of six feet. Finally, it is the tourists who are responsible for safety in tourism as per the tourism guideline.

The writer is former Deputy Director General, Bangladesh Ansar & VDP.