The number of foreign tourists' arrival in Bangladesh increased over the past five years, according to data revealed at a programme on Wednesday.
The number of foreign tourists was about 0.16 million in 2014 which slightly declined in 2015 reaching 0.14 million, before increasing again to 0.20 million in 2016, about 0.26 million in 2017, around 0.27 million in 2018 and about 0.20 million up to July this year.
The special branch (SB) of police recently provided the data to the civil aviation and tourism ministry.
Civil aviation and tourism secretary Mohibul Haque presented the data at a programme at the National Press Club in the city on Wednesday.
Mr. Haque was present at the programme 'Certificate Giving Ceremony: Tourism Media fellowship 2019' as the special guest jointly organised by Aviation and Tourism Journalists Forum (ATJF) and Bangladesh Tourism Board (BTB).
State minster for civil aviation and tourism Mahbub Ali was present as the chief guest at the programme. A total of 10 journalists won the media fellowship award of BTB.
The secretary said that the ministry has taken an initiative to develop accurate statistics of tourists. The SB from now on will provide tourists' arrival information on a regular basis.
"We have got the number of pure holidaymakers. But we have asked for the information of foreign guests and business travelers, who are also tourists. We have developed software called Advance Passenger Information System to get tourists data," he said. He added that the system will be effective from mid-2020.
The move came against the backdrop of criticism about lack of data from various stakeholders of tourism sector including tour operators, hoteliers, travel agencies, media, academicians and researchers.
Data is very much needed to prepare plan and undertake programmes to develop the tourism sector.
Mr Mohibul said the ministry could not complete the work of preparing the tourism master plan over the past one decade. But now the work order will be awarded to a firm by the first week of October for preparing the tourism master plan.
The ministry will spend around Tk 300 million in this regard, he said.
The secretary also said that the organisations could not create necessary facilities for the tourists at the tourist spots. The roads are sometimes so dilapidated that people will fall sick after traveling.
"Development of tourism sector is not the work of a single ministry only. We are discussing the issues of infrastructure and security with relevant ministries," he said.
State minister Mahbub Ali said that it is not enough to keep the roads usable for attracting tourists, addressing other issues like security are very important.
The ministry has been talking to various foreign missions and embassies here to lift the red, orange and yellow alerts which were issued after Holi Artisan attack, he added.