Manzurul Alam Mukul: According to World Trade Organization (WTO), one incoming tourist in a particular country provides direct and indirect employment to nine persons. Travel and tourism is now one of the world`s fastest growing business segments.
Tourism is one of top five export categories for as many as 83 per cent of countries and is a main source of foreign exchange earnings at least 38 per cent of countries.
According to a study of World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), direct employment support by travel and tourism is forecast to rise by 2.9 per cent per annum to 1,785,000 jobs or 1.9 per cent of total employment in 2023. This includes employment by hotels, travel agents, airlines and other passenger transportation services (excluding commuter services).
The world tourism market has grown at an average of 3.7 per cent over the past five years and is projected to grow by an average of 4.9 per cent over the next five years, with Asia and Pacific regions recording the fastest growth rate.
Like other countries, hospitality is now becoming Bangladesh`s one of the largest industries, generating additional jobs across the country. Hotel industry can play a significant role in the growth of the tourism industry as Bangladesh is strategically located in an ideal place in Asia and a tourist destination on the map of the world.
It can be here mentioned that Bangladesh got independence through a nine-month long bloody war in 1971. The size of gross domestic product (GDP) of Bangladesh was 6.4 billion US dollars in the same year.
According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the size of the GDP of Bangladesh reached 153.5 billion US dollars in 2013. During 1970-2013 GDP of Bangladesh grew by 146.4 billion US dollars (in 21.6 times).
During 1970-2013 GDP per capita in Bangladesh rose by 873 US dollars (in 9.2 times) to 980 US dollars. The average annual growth of GDP per capita in Bangladesh was 20.3 US dollars or 19 percent. Now GDP per capita of Bangladesh is 1314 US dollars. The economy of the country has been maintaining 6 plus per cent growth since 2004.
According to sources, ten more five-star hotels in Dhaka and Chittagong are going to be built in Bangladesh as demand for accommodation increasing in Bangladesh frequent visits by increased number of the foreign businessmen coupled with hosting of international sports events.
According to sources, six global hospitality chains are investing around US$ 1.0 billion to construct 10 new five-star hotels in Dhaka, Chittagong and Cox`s Bazar by 2016.
In a historic move, Unique Hotel and Resorts Ltd, the owning company of Westin Dhaka, are building second Westin (to be more appropriate, the extension of the existing one) at Gulshan, a Le Meridien hotel and another Westin in Chittagong. It signed a Memorandum of Understanding to build three hotels with cost of Taka 2,000 crore or 300 million US dollar. This is the largest ever development programme in hospitality industry of Bangladesh.
Of them, Le Meridien with 250 rooms is now under construction at the capital`s Nikunjo along the Airport Road, which is scheduled to be opened soon.
Best Holdings Ltd, a local concern of Metro Group, is constructing a building with 304 rooms.
The US-based Starwood Hotels and Resorts has already acquired the French Le Meridien recently.
Besides, the local Jamuna Builders Ltd signed a deal with another US-based hotel chain Marriott International to set up a 700-room luxury hotel in Dhaka.
The Hilton Worldwide signed a management agreement with the Premier Hotels & Resorts to manage the Hilton Dhaka.. Another five-star hotel - Sheraton -- will be built by a local business company in an area between the Basundhara and newly developed Purbachal areas of the capital.
Thailand-based the ONYX Hospitality Group has appointed a local agent to operate a 134-room property in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
The Amari Dhaka is owned by the Karishma Services and is managed by the ONYX under their upscale Amari brand. Located in the business district of Gulshan, the Amari Dhaka has already started journey.
Frequent visits by increased number of the foreign businessmen coupled with hosting of international sports events has helped boost the demand, industry insiders say.
The annual occupancy rate on an average is 55-60%, say industry insiders. According to Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation (BPC) officials, roughly 500,000 foreigners arrived in Bangladesh in 2012 with above 80% of them on business and official tours and the remaining as tourists.
"Even we pay 591 per cent duty on Alcohol and 438 per cent on Beer, 147.5 per cent duty on chocolates, 86.43 per cent duty on imported water and so on which are much higher duties than regional counties", he adds.
The tourism industry is considered as a major source of foreign currency earnings for countries like India, Malaysia, Thailand, the Maldives, Spain, Switzerland, Nepal, UAE, the Maldives, Indonesia, Singapore and many more.
Bangladesh can also easily earn 2.00-3.00 billion US dollars per year by targeting foreign tourists. But the different adverse situations like the political unrest are posing a great threat to the prospective tourism sector. Tourism can add value in the Bangladeshi economy if proper marketing plan and strategy can be built and implemented, besides resolving the problems.
risingbd/DHAKA/June 19, 2015