National, Front Page

Tour operators coming under legal framework

Published : 03 Sep 2021 09:39 PM | Updated : 04 Sep 2021 01:04 AM

A law has been designed to bring the private tour operators and tour guides under the legal framework. Registration has been made mandatory for the touring companies under the provisions of the proposed law.

Now, there is no law or guideline or rules for the tour operators and guides in the country. So, unregistered online and social media-based tours and travel service providers are on the rise in absence of rules and regulations.

The law is being formulated with a view to bringing discipline to the private tourism business sector. No tour operator will be able to do business without registration after enactment of the law. They have to collect registrations even if they have existing trade licences. 

However, the online-based tours and travel service providers can’t run their activities without registration. There are hundreds of pages of tour operators and guides on Facebook. These groups organise various types of tours that attract the country’s youths. Registration will be mandatory for these Facebook-based tour operators and guides. 

Many said that social media or Facebook-based tour groups may fall into disrepair, as people will have to travel through registered tour operators after enactment of the law. 

The law has been designed under the title “Bangladesh Tour Operators and Tour Guides (Registration and Operation) Bill, 2021”. It was placed in the Parliament on April 3 this year. The bill was sent to the respective standing committee for further scrutiny. 

Sources said that the draft law has already been scrutinised by the parliamentary watchdog. It may be placed in the current session of the Parliament for the passage, said KM Abdus Salam, secretary to the Parliament Secretariat. 

An official of the Tourism and Civil Aviation Ministry said that the proposed law was framed aiming to bring the tour operators under the legal framework to ensure best services and boost the private tourism sector. All those who are now engaged in tour operation business will be brought under registration under the law. The sector will flourish and the revenue of the government will increase after the registration will be made mandatory.

Taslim Amin Shovon, CEO of  Bizcone Holidays and former director of the Tour Operators Association of Bangladesh (TOAB) welcomed the government’s move of framing law for private tour companies. 

Talking to the Bangladesh Post on Friday (September 3), he said that many online-based platforms who have no trade licence are now engaged in tourism business. Activities of the unauthorised platforms have expanded during the Covid-19 situation. These platforms should come under monitoring of the government. If the law is passed, it will ensure the monitoring while the mainstream tour operators and guides will be benefited, he added.   

The terms and conditions for getting registration, period of registration, and provisions for cancellation of registration were mentioned in the proposed law. 

After enactment of the law, a touring company will have to collect a licence from the ministry by paying a specific amount of fee. The licence will be renewed  after every three years. No company will be allowed to operate tours without registration. If anyone does, it would be tried under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898. 

The proposed law also has a provision of handing over the registration to another tour operator in case of death, physical and financial incapability.