Concern over shutting down of commercial operations by foreign airlines to Chattogram

BTB drawing up Tourism Master Plan, going for digital marketing, CEO says at CTM-2018

_A Monitor Report 01 Nov, 2018 | 391 Views | - +
Chittagong: Bangladesh Tourism Board (BTB) has undertaken an initiative to draw up the much-awaited Tourism Master Plan for the country and is in the final stage of the appointment of a consultant.

Md Jahangir Hossain, Chief Executive Officer, BTB said while addressing the inaugural session of the three-day international tourism fair "Chittagong Travel Mart-2018" at The Peninsula Chittagong hotel in the port city on October 25.

The BTB CEO said BTB is going for a digital marketing campaign globally and the results would be visible within the next six months.

He said, when the Tourism Master Plan is approved, the government would be able to go for investment in country's infrastructure and communication in a big way.

Organised by The Bangladesh Monitor, a leading travel and tourism fortnightly, the CTM-2018 was inaugurated by AJM Nasir Uddin, Mayor of Chattogram City Corporation (CCC) as the chief guest.

Mahbubul Alam, President, Chattogram Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI), Kazi Wahidul Alam, Editor, The Bangladesh Monitor, Hanif Zakaria, Chief Commercial Officer, Regent Airways and Mustak Luhar, General Manager, The Peninsula Chittagong spoke at the opening ceremony.

The BTO CEO admitted that the country had been unable to harness the benefits of tourism despite having so much potential. One thing is clear, he said, there are some problems. If we see both from the perspectives of the government and the entrepreneurs of the sector, the country is unable to offer the state-of-the-art facilities.

Jahangir Hossain said, when a tourist comes to the country s/he wants to make prior bookings, make payments in a secured manner and draw up his or her own itinerary online. We have been unable to offer that yet.

There is the problem of infrastructure. Some of us may have come by air (from Dhaka to Chattogram), but it takes long hours for an FIT to come to Chittagong or go to Cox's Bazar from Dhaka.

Citing the comment of an envoy who had met and told the BTB CEO that the rates of hotels were "heart-piercing" compared to her country, Jahangir Hossain advised the entrepreneurs to be more competitive.

He informed the audience that the BTB was being recast to empower the organisation by bringing in some institutional changes.

In his welcome speech, Kazi Wahidul Alam expressed concern over gradual shutting down of commercial operations by the foreign airlines to Chattogram, which according to him would negatively impact the foreign tourist arrivals to the region.

The Monitor Editor urged upon the CCCI President to play a pioneering role in finding out the actual reasons behind it. He opined that the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism should take appropriate measures in retaining the foreign airlines to Chattogram.

He said, considering the importance and immense tourism potentials of greater Chattogram, The Bangladesh Monitor had been organising the fair for last nine years. "We hope to organise Chittagong Travel Mart at a bigger scale in future," he said.

The Chattogram Chamber chief, also appealed for better connectivity as well as improvement of tourism facilities to attract more tourists to the Chattogram region. According to him, millions of dollars can be earned if we are able harness the religious tourism potentials of the region.

Chattogram could also be hub for tourists coming from Dhaka and seeking to go for destinations in the three hill districts or heading for Cox's Bazar.

Direct air flights

Giving examples of how direct air connectivity enriched the economies of cities of the region, the Chamber chief called for reintroduction of direct air flights from other cities in the region and expressed concern about the pullout of different airlines from Hazrat Shah Amanat International Airport.

Market segmentation

Hanif Zakaria felt that granting visa on arrival would definitely be a step forward to increase the flow of tourists. He called for recasting the Immigration form into like the one given at international airports in Thailand, which incoming guests are requested to fill up. A more detailed Immigration form would help tourist authorities get a better of the segmentation of the market.

He regretted the absence of tourism desks at the major hotels, not only in Chattogram but also in Dhaka. Tourists could be requested by the persons manning those desks that since you have come, these are the places you can visit or these are the activities you can take part in.

Hotels are also failing in showcasing the local culture, Hanif Zakaria said.

Bangladesh for me is an undiscovered gem. Bangla-desh is Sonar Bangla. We just need to give the gold some polish, he added.

AJM Nasir Uddin, Mayor of Chattogram City Corporation (CCC) in his inaugural speech, stressed the need for coordination among the public and private sectors for joint and effective initiatives for overall development of country's tourism.

Mustak Luhar, expressing his gratitude to The Bangladesh Monitor for holding CTM-2018, said he hoped the fair would be organised for the years to come at The Peninsula Chittagong.

Chattogram is a beautiful city. Sri Lankans who visit Chattogram find no difference between Chittagong and cities back home. So it is the responsibility of us all to promote this hidden gem, Luhar said.

Over twenty organisations including airlines, tour operators, hotels, resorts, amusement parks and other tourism related service providers showcased their products and services at the fair.

Exhibitors offered special discounts on air tickets, hotel rooms, tour packages and other products and services for the visitors.

Attractive raffle prizes will be given to visitors by the participants every day on all the three days.

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