The Financial Express

Tourism sector

A long way to go before full manning

A long way to go before full manning

The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) decided in 1979 to establish the 27th September as World Tourism Day (WTD) and subsequently it started just in 1980. Since its beginning there has been a theme for each year decided by UNWTO to create awareness among international community to foster the importance as well as social, cultural, political and economic value of tourism. This year, 2019, the theme of the World Tourism Day is "Tourism and Jobs: A better future for all". That's why in this year the UNWTO is focusing on three developing areas: Education, Skills and Jobs. 

The events suggested in 1998 by the UNWTO to observe the day includes: Message from Head of State, Government and Mayor's; Declaration of the day as a special day for entire national territory; Marking the day in school, college, university teaching establishments; Calling press conferences and radio, television presentations; Organizing competition to increase public awareness; Special welcome reception for tourists; Printing stickers, flags and banners; Miss and Mister WTD competitions; Illumination of main buildings and monuments; Organising festivals, processions of floral floats, concerts, folk shows and gastronomic days; Promotional advantage or offering gift by carriers and other tour operators to their clients; Awarding or presentation of tourism merit prizes to eminent persons, professionals and the press and more others.  

Bangladesh has been observing the day every year since its inception but sluggish to choose more events. The messages from the President and the Prime Minister, traditional street rally, Seminar, Talk show, Photographs competition, Illumination of few buildings and Food festival in some star ranting hotels are the year-long main events practised to observe such an important day. Nevertheless, considering this year's theme of WTD it is undoubtedly more important especially for our stagnant tourism as it has yet not developed up to the expectation.  

The International Tourism is booming day by day. As per UNWTO statistics, the international tourist arrivals reached 1.4 billion in 2018. Also, the International Travel & Tourism Council (ITTC) confirms 3.9 per cent growth rate of tourism to contribute a record 8.8 trillion US dollars and 319 million jobs to the world economy in 2018 representing one in ten of all jobs globally. This growth of tourism in recent years confirms that the sector is today one of the most powerful drivers of economic growth and development. So, the UNWTO's Secretary General Zurab Pololikashvili has said "This is why UNWTO is focusing 2019 on education, skills and job creation". 

What about Bangladesh? It is all about sterile; though Bangladesh has 47 years' practice to accelerate the development of its tourism. It's true that both of our resources: tourism and human capital are really potential but yet to be utilized properly. To develop tourism sustainably it is needed to convert our tourism resources into products by maintaining international standard to sell it out. To do this we should procure sufficient skilled manpower to serve the industry. That's why our human resources also should convert into tourism manpower through proper education and training to support the jobs.

At present the direct employment in Bangladesh tourism is about 1.2 million and it may exceed 3.0 million by 2028 as per ITTC forecast. Also the unofficial sources said that the present demand for skilled and unskilled employment in tourism sector is .3 - .4 million. To fulfill this demand it requires proper education and training for job seekers. To do this all the five parties involved: Students, Teachers and Trainers, Authorities or Owners, Employers as well as the Government should perform their own duties and responsibilities properly.  

The students have to be more cautious about curriculum, lesson, lab, field study, research and internship to fit them for better jobs. The teachers and trainers should perform their job properly by educating students on the basis of modern curriculum and need based tourism knowledge including better counselling to set them in proper place. The authorities should assure updated curriculum, good teaching staff, lab, equipments, field study, certification, counselling and job searching to make the students skilled and professional for better jobs. The employers should assure the jobs for skilled candidates justifiably as well as establish the usual practice and rules of law for job security and good environment for employees.

The government should play a vital role to form a Council to control, monitor and supervise the activities of all institutions and organizations engaged in tourism education and training. There should be a national "Tourism Skill Certification" program to assess the standard of education and training as well as to ease the entry in tourism profession both domestic and international. The govt. also shall form a tripartite committee with the representatives from Government, Employers and Employees to see and protect the interest of the parties.  

These are the basic requirements for which necessary measures are to be taken for better education and skills development to secure better jobs. We must have to realize, WTD theme 2019 alarming Bangladesh. That's why it is so important to take appropriate steps earliest possible to meet the national demand for skilled manpower in tourism industry and also export surplus to meet the international demand. But otherwise, all or any of the efforts taken unplanned and unrealistic for the Development of Bangladesh Tourism shall remain in vain.

The writer is the Governing Body Member of Bangladesh Tourism Board (BTB).
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