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Govt to bring domestic tour operators under regulations

Kamrun Nahar | Published: August 10, 2019 10:19:40 | Updated: August 17, 2019 10:33:56


The government is set to bring the domestic tour operators under regulations by enacting a new law for a more planned development of the tourism industry.

To this end, civil aviation and tourism ministry has made a draft styled 'Bangladesh Tour Operators (Registration and Control) Act 2019.

A touring company will have to obtain a licence from the ministry by paying a specific amount of fee.

As proposed, the activities of tour operators, tour guides, general tour guides, cultural guides, nature guides and trekking guides will now be regulated.

But the Association of Travel Agents of Bangladesh (ATAB) is against fresh enactment as, it claimed, operators' activities are covered by the Bangladesh Travel Agency (Registration and Control) Act 2013.

Tourism secretary Mohibul Haque recently sat with travel agents and operators to take their opinions.

Taufiq Rahman, chief executive of Journey Plus, said the law under which travel agents operate does not cover tour operators' activities.

It endorses that the travel agents mainly responsible for ticketing can provide accommodation, transportation and other services, if necessary, he added.

These 'other' services should rather be specified, Mr Rahman of the inbound tour operator told the FE.

Tour operation was not a recognised, specialised service when the travel agency law was prepared in 1977, he mentioned.

"But time has changed many areas of the travel and tourism industry," Mr Rahman continued.

"Tour operation should be regulated as elsewhere in the world. If any amendment to the travel agency law is required, the government should do it as both laws are prepared by the same ministry."

The Journey Plus executive said they are now operating with the trade licence provided by city corporations.

Bangladesh Inbound Tour Operators Association president Rezaul Ekram said tour operation and travel agency operation globally are totally separate business as per their definitions.

Ticketing is part of the tour operation job. Tour operators prepare a creative package and give it to the other stakeholders like travel agents, he added.

About the number of unlicensed tour operators here, Mr Ekram said it will not be more than 3,000.

ATAB secretary general Abdus Salam Aref, however, differed totally with tour operators and the ministry's decision on a proposed new law.

He said any organisation registered with the travel agency act can provide any kind of service, including tour operation.

There is no need to enact a new law as tour operation is part of travel agency operation, he argued.

Mr Aref said the ministry can prepare a list of the operators and specify their activities through framing a policy guideline for the tourist sector to thrive.

More than 4,000 ATAB members have been doing the same job of a tour operator, he added.

Once a new law is made, Mr Aref said, they will have to take double licence and pay double tax.

He claimed the number of unlicensed tour operators to be 8000-10,000 in the country.

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