Taking tourism business to the next level
With an increased number of bookings at the holiday resorts, this sub sector of the country's tourism industry has reportedly been doing brisk business this winter. Spread across the different popular tourist locations in the divisions of Sylhet and Chattogram as well as in Gazipur district close to Dhaka, most of these holiday resorts cater basically to the high-end customers. Evidently, opening up of the economy in the wake of the decline in the second wave of the pandemic has provided the holidaymakers an opportunity to escape from the boredom of the long depressing days of lockdown. This is certainly encouraging for the business of these holiday resorts as it will help the business to recover the losses it suffered during the pandemic.
As this Tk3.0-billion worth of resort business under the broader tourism sector employs hundreds of people, the prolonged lockdowns not only caused losses to the business, but also rendered a large number of its workers jobless. From that point of view, it is good news that business of the holiday resorts is looking up. But, business aside, the sector is also experiencing the unhealthy growth in the number of resorts in an unregulated manner. Small wonder that taking advantage of this situation, some of those resorts are offering poor quality service to their clients. In the absence of any official documentation about their number, a kind of free-for-all is reigning in the sector. In such a situation, it comes as no surprise that a dishonest section of these holiday resorts has been charging extortionate tariffs from unsuspecting customers or is even engaged in outright fraudulence. Besides, in the process, the government is also losing a huge sum of revenue. The government should look into the matter to establish order as well as introduce necessary regulations in this important part of the tourism business. However, the government meanwhile is learnt to have laid down some rules to fix the number of services a resort must offer to its clients. But that is not enough. What is important is to ensure that while serving its customers, the sector can also function under a legal framework and at the same time is able to make its due contribution to the economy.
At this point, the government would also do well to consider the fact that, as the holiday resort business is struggling to recover, it is now faced with yet another challenge from the Omicron variant of the Covid-19. In consequence, many customers have started to cancel the bookings they made earlier. As the number of Omicron cases has been on a rising curve in recent days, the fear among the resort operators is growing that they are in for a second shock to their business. That would be so if the government goes for another round of strict lockdowns to rein in the pandemic. In that case, the government will be required to arrange some support to cushion the sector from any future shock. Even so, it is also time the tourism sector including the resort business cleared the decks to achieve the next level. For it is yet to grow into a full-fledged industry. To make that to happen, alongside serving domestic clients, it should also be able to attract foreign tourists. To that end, it would be required to increase accessibility as well as well as improve quality of its service.