Tour operators, agents demand cash incentive  

Leaders of tour operators and travel agents on Friday demanded budgetary measures for duty-free import of tourist vehicles and 10 per cent cash incentive for tourism business.

‘In the upcoming national budget, we need provision of importing duty-free tourist vehicle and 10 per cent cash incentive as we are earning foreign currency without any support from the government,’ they said.

The demands were made at a pre-budget discussion on civil aviation and tourism at Dhaka Reporter Unity.

tour operatorsAviation and Tourism Journalists’ Forum of Bangladesh and Tour Operators Association of Bangladesh organised the discussion in cooperation with the Association of Travel Agents of Bangladesh, BSS reports.

Civil aviation and tourism minister Rashed Khan Menon spoke as the chief guest while TOAB president Toufiq Uddin Ahmed and ATAB president Monjur Morshed Mahbub spoke as the guests of honour.

ATJFB convener Nadira Kiron moderated the discussion while member secretary Tanzim Anwar gave welcome speech.

TOAB director Toufiq Rahman and ATAB secretary general Zinnur Ahmed Chowdhury Dipu presented two separate keynote papers containing various proposals while Centre for Policy Dialogue additional research director Khondaker Golam Moazzem analysed different aspects of upcoming budget focusing tourism sector.

Rashed Khan Menon urged the private sector to come up with investment in a bigger way to develop exclusive tourism zones jointly with the government.

‘At this moment, the government won’t be able to provide the required amount of money for development of those zones. We need private investment in a bigger way under the public-private partnership,’ he said.

Noting that the government is considering tourism as a thrust sector this time, the minister said ‘I assure you that there is political commitment for the development of the tourism sector this time.’

He urged the stakeholders of the tourism sector not to expect too much in terms of budgetary allocations this

time as the finance minister works with limited resources.

‘But we’ll continue working with you for the development of the highly potential sector,’ he said adding that the finance minister would make specific directives in his budget speech this time.

Economist Golam Moazzem said the government should focus more on the tourism sector as it has vast potential to contribute to the economy.

The CPD economist said tourism and civil aviation deserve equal attention but the tourism sector remains neglected.

‘Since the government is giving priority, the tourism sector needs separate identity. Probably, I say with courage, a separate ministry is needed for tourism sector as it has vast potential,’ he added.