A three-day Asian Tourism Fair 2015 kicked off in the city Thursday with a plea for boosting regional cooperation to tap good portion of the global tourism market.
The fair is being held at a city convention centre organised jointly by the Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation (BPC) and Parjatan Bichitra, a monthly magazine, dealing with tourism and hospitality industry.
The fair, which is being held for the fourth time in Bangladesh, has involved 120 businesses linked to tourism, hotel and hospitality industry from eight countries.
Apart from Bangladesh, businesses from Nepal, Bhutan, India, the Philippines, Thailand, Uzbekistan and Singapore are participating in the fair.
Civil aviation and tourism minister Rashed Khan Menon while inaugurating the opening ceremony as the chief guest said Bangladesh has immense potential in attracting travellers. He said, We are fortunate to have rich cultural and natural heritage and famous tourist spots, such as Cox’s Bazar, the Sundarbans, Mahasthangarh, Paharpur and so on.
He said the government has declared 2016 as a tourism year and has targetted to increase foreign tourist arrivals significantly next year by undertaking a series of promotional activities.
Community based tourism is also being given priority to make Bangladesh a visitor-friendly country, he said.
BPC Chairman Dr Aparup Chowdhury said government has been also emphasising on non-traditional tourism like community based tourism, eco tourism to boost the sector.
He said the fair will make a link between different countries, also between buyers and sellers.
Senior specialist at the Internal Labour Organisation (ILO) Francis Dilip De Silva said the global tourism and travel industry has reached $8 trillion annually and employed 277 million people.
He said one in eleven persons in the world are linked to tourism sector.
“But contribution of the tourism and travel industry to the Bangladeshi Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is not encouraging—only 02 per cent,” he said.
Bangladesh will have to tap a good portion of global tourism business by emphasising on regional tourism, he said.
Ambassadors to Dhaka— H K Sreshtha, Nepal, Pema Choden, Bhutan, Vicente Vivencio T. Bandillo, Philippines, Cultural Counselor at the Chinese Embassy in Bangladesh Chen Suang also echoed that of Mr De Silva.
Convener of the fair and editor of the monthly “Parjatan Bichitra,” Mohiuddin Helal presided over the inauguration programme while Director of Bangladesh Parjatan Board Nikhil Chandra Ray, Corporate Communication Manager of Nestle, Bangladesh, Farah Sharmeen Aolad, Head of Sales at The Palace Luxury Resort, Syed Yameenul Huq were, among others, also present.
A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation and Community Based Tourism, (CBT) Bangladesh.
The Nestle and USAID also signed MoU with CBT Bangladesh on the occasion.
The fair will remain open from 10:00am to 9:00pm till Saturday.