Pandemic inflicts $2b loss on tourism sector

State minister for foreign affairs Md Shahriar Alam citing a report on Friday said that the total loss of tourism sector of Bangladesh is around $2billion in the end of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The government of Bangladesh has made special allocation in the budget of FY 2020-21 to recover the losses of the tourism sector,” he said at the 17th Ministerial Meeting of the Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) held virtually.

Turkey is the current chair of the Dialogue which was inaugurated in June 2002 in Cha-Am, Thailand, where 18 Asian Foreign Ministers met together for the first time.

It aims to constitute the missing link in Asia by incorporating every Asian country and building an Asian Community without duplicating other organisations or creating a bloc against others, according to its official website. The core values of the ACD are positive thinking; informality; voluntarism; non-institutionalization; openness; respect for diversity; the comfort level of member countries; and the evolving nature of the ACD process.

The State Minister highlighting the tourism opportunities in the country said that Bangladesh has a host of natural treasures such as beaches, lakes, rivers, hills and forests etc. that offer significant value for tourist attractions.

The Chittagong Hill Tracts with its scenic waterfalls and green hills, the world's longest uninterrupted sandy Cox's Bazar sea beach and the largest Sundarbans mangrove forest are the most popular tourist attractions in Bangladesh. During the winter season, Bangladesh becomes a charming place for migratory birds, he said.

“Mainly, plenty of habitats for migratory and seasonal birds have made our country a paradise for ornithologists and nature lovers. Obviously, these geographical facts and features have established Bangladesh as a desirable destination for the tourists around the world.

“Bangladesh is also rich in handicrafts and readymade apparel industry. For example- Jamdani, a flagship of Bangladeshi traditional handicraft has been recognised as intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO in 2013 due to its special characteristics, quality and reputation. Jamdani is one of the surviving ancient patterns of legendary Muslin,” he said.

“There is a saying that the Muslin woven in Bangladesh is so soft and fine that six yards of the fabric could pass through a single ring of the index finger!”

During the 18th century Muslin was highly popular in Europe and the Middle East.

He also sought cooperation of the ACD members in settling the Rohingya crisis.

 “We are still grappling to arrange accommodation for around 1.1 million Forcibly Displaced Rohingya people. Bangladesh expressed her deep political will and sincere commitment to settle the Rohingya crisis through bilateral and multilateral approach,” he said.

Two centuries ago, the world abolished slavery by the power of humanity. “We also pledged that genocide will happen “Never again” in the world.”

“So, it will only require our true willingness to stop all kinds of misanthropic activities such as terrorism, genocide and all sorts of violence,” he said.

The state minister thanked Qatar for its offer to host the 3rd ACD Summit in 2021. “Bangladesh is keen to provide all possible assistance to strengthen the ACD secretariat as well as to appoint diplomats in future.”