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The Financial Express

New tourism law to lure international companies, increase visitors

| Updated: November 30, 2021 16:33:30


- File photo used for representation - File photo used for representation

The newly-enacted law for the tourism industry is expected to attract international operators to expand their operations in Bangladesh and increase the number of tourists here, experts and stakeholders said.

According to them, the new legal framework would also help enhance trust and reliability among foreign entrepreneurs.

The Bangladesh Tour Operators and Tour Guides (Registration and Operation) Act 2021 would also ensure best services for tourists and thus give a boost to the sector.

They also opined that foreign tour operators would create investment potentials in the country to some extent.

They felt that a local operator should be tagged with an international operator to run business in Bangladesh, but the provision is not there in the law.

Section 4(2) of the law allows foreign tour operators to do business in Bangladesh with permission from the appropriate authorities concerned. Registration is a must for tour operators, as per the law.

The new law makes obtaining licences from the authorities concerned mandatory for the local companies.

It also has a provision of maximum six-month imprisonment and a compensation of Tk 200,000 in case of violation of the law.

A number of tour operators have long been doing business in the country without any licence, and there are allegations that they often cheat tourists due to absence of necessary regulations for the business.

The number of foreign tourists stood at 323,295 in 2019, which was 139,106 in 2010, according to the Bangladesh Tourism Board (BTB).

A senior official at the BTB told the Financial Express that a low number of foreign tourists are coming to Bangladesh right now due to impact of the Covid pandemic.

He hoped that the number of foreign tourists would rise in the coming days.

Jabed Ahmed, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the BTB, said the new law, when would become effective, would certainly build confidence and trust among foreign tourists, and local tour operators would also come under standard regulations,.

Foreign tourists would feel and believe that they would not be exploited, as there is a legal framework in the country, he pointed out.

Mr Jabed, an additional secretary, also said the local operators need not worry about Section 4(2) of the new law, as it would help them upgrade and be competitive.

If any foreign tour operator comes to operate in the country, it would be scrutinised minutely.

The government has to be very quick to formulate rules of the new law as well as ensure its speedy enforcement, the BTB CEO added.

Dr. Santus Kumar Deb, Associate Professor and Chairman of Department of Tourism and Hospitality Management, University of Dhaka, said the newly-formed law would definitely bring the operators under legal identities and regulate them.

Terming the law as well-timed and much-needed, he added that it would also increase trust and credibility among foreign tourists regarding their safety and security here, and encourage them to visit the country.

Md. Rafeuzzaman, president of the Tour Operators Association of Bangladesh (TOAB), said the newly-formulated law would pave the way to attract more foreign tourists in the country.

Terming the new law a good and positive sign - inspiring arrival of a good number of foreign tourists here, he also pointed out that the law should be relaxed for tour operators in terms of obligations.

Mr Rafeuzzaman, however, expressed doubt and concern that the foreign tour operators might harm the business of small and medium investors, as they would come in the country as giant investors and create a competitive atmosphere.

The foreign investors should invest in infrastructure development here as per the government's demand and expectations, he stated.

While asking about his reaction to the new law, the TOAB president said he is reluctant to make any remarks right now.

Mohammed Shahed Ullah, director of media and publication at the TOAB, opined that some foreign operators, who are still operating in an unauthorised manner in the country, would come under the law, which is a positive sign.

The law would definitely be able to change the entire sector in a disciplined manner, and help boost tourists' confidence and reliability, he added.

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