The General Assembly of United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) decided in 1979 to observe September 27 as World Tourism Day (WTD). The day began to be observed world-wide since 1980. Since its beginning there is a theme for each year decided by UNWTO to create awareness among the international community to foster the importance as well as social, cultural, political and economic value of tourism. This year, the theme of the World Tourism Day is "Tourism and Jobs: A better future for all". That's why, this year the UNWTO is focusing three developing areas: Education, Skills and Jobs.
Bangladesh has been observing the day every year since its introduction. However, this year's theme is especially relevant to our stagnant tourism sector as it has yet not developed up to the expectation.
International Tourism is booming day by day. As per UNWTO statistics international tourist arrivals reached 1.4 billion in 2018. Also, the International Travel & Tourism Council (ITTC) confirms 3.9 per cent growth of tourism to contribute a record 8.8 trillion US dollar 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 one of the most powerful drivers of economic growth and development.
As for Bangladesh, it is true that the country is far from having a well-driven tourism sector. Despite our potential to grow, we have not been able to utilise the resources properly. To develop tourism sustainably, it is needed to convert our tourism resources into products by maintaining international standard to sell them. To do this, we should procure sufficient skilled manpower to serve the industry.
Unofficial sources say that the present demand for skilled and unskilled workforce in tourism sector is .03-.04 million. To fulfill this demand it requires proper education and training for job seekers. To do this, all concerned including tourism students, teachers and trainers, authorities or owners, employers as well as the government should perform their respective duties and responsibilities properly.
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 counseling to set them in proper places. The authorities should ensure updated curriculum, good teaching staff, lab, equipments, field study, certification, counseling and job searching to make the students skilled and professional for jobs. The employers should ensure jobs for skilled candidates.
The government should play a vital role to form a Council to control, monitor and supervise the activities of all institutions and organisations engaged in tourism education and training. There should be a national "Tourism Skill Certification" programme to asses the standard of education and training as well as to ease the entry into tourism profession, both domestic and international. The government should also form a tripartite committee with representatives from government, employers and employees to 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. The World Tourism Day is indeed a reminder for countries like ours that development in tourism and creation of more jobs are mutually reinforcing.
M Zamiul Ahmed is Governing Body Member, Bangladesh Tourism Board (BTB).