“However, banks are refusing most of the travel agents and tour operators to give them loans”
Speakers at an online conference urged the government to provide loans to tourism stakeholders, such as tour operators, travel agents, hoteliers and aviation owners, under the stimulus package to help the sector heal injuries caused by the pandemic.
Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation, the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism and travel magazine "Vromon" jointly organised the conference titled "Elephant Theory and Window Dressing Method in Tourism: Key Tool for Recovery against Post-Covid-19".
It was part of a conference series titled "Tourism: A Penalty Shoot for the Economy of Bangladesh-7".
Md Rafeuzzaman, president of the Tour Operators Association of Bangladesh, said tour operators, travel agents and other stakeholders in the sector have been highly affected by the Covid-19. "However, we are not getting bank loans under the government-declared stimulus package."
He also said tourism is eligible to get loans as a service sector. "However, banks are refusing most of the travel agents and tour operators to give them loans."
Md Mohibul Haque, senior secretary of the civil aviation and tourism ministry, urged tour operators to submit necessary documents of foreign currency earning to banks so that they can get the loan under the stimulus package.
"Tour operators, guides and other stakeholders are not legally recognised in the country as there is no tourism law. We are working on a law which is now in the law ministry for vetting."
He mentioned that the standard operational manual is ready to reopen the tourism sector amid the pandemic. "We will send it to all stakeholders concerned within this month."
Tourism is the most affected sector amid the pandemic, he said, adding that a dozen ministries are interrelated with the sector but they do not have adequate coordination.
Mohibul Haque also said private airlines are facing the highest level of hardship now. "It is really tough for them to survive the pandemic. We are considering the waiver of aeronautical charge of private airlines but they have to follow our guidelines."
He urged the media to play a constructive role to promote a good image of Bangladesh all over the world.
Meanwhile, the secretary said the government is working on making the country's first-ever heliport.
"A suitable place has been selected for this purpose. In this regard, the civil aviation authority has formed a committee which will prepare a report very soon. Then, we will publish details about the heliport."
Nawazish Ali Khan, a media personality, said the budget allocation is not sufficient for the tourism sector.
Ram Chandra Das, chairman of Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation, presided over the programme conducted by Abu Sufian, editor of "Vromon".
Among others, Jabed Ahmed, chief executive officer of Bangladesh Tourism Board, Mofizur Rahman, managing director of Novoair, and Ashrafur Rahman, superintendent of tourism police, also spoke at the conference.