The ongoing global travel stalemate has sent the country's tourism and hospitality sector into a tailspin, and the effects of Covid-19 pandemic are likely to stretch throughout the year.
So the industry players sought immediate financial assistance from the government in the online discussion "Survival Strategy: Current and Post Covid-19 Crisis" organised by Tour Operators Association of Bangladesh (Toab) on Sunday.
Speaking at the programme, Association of Travel Agents of Bangladesh President Monsur Ahmed Kalam said, "The banks are not interested in giving loans to the tourism sector. So we are sceptical about getting benefitted from the government's coronavirus stimulus packages."
Toab President Md Rafeuzzaman said, "Loan at 4.5 percent interest rate will not be viable for this sector as most of the businessmen here have a small or moderate capacity.
"We suggest the government to give immediate financial assistance to the sector."
Bangladesh Restaurant Owners' Association President Khandakar Ruhul Amin said, "Loan with low-interest rate has to be ensured for the tourism and hospitality sectors' stakeholders."
Dhaka Regency Hotel and Resort's Executive Director Shahid Hamid said, "The business travellers from China, Japan and India will come to Bangladesh in the post-Covid-19 period. We have to work on making it easy for them and other travellers from all South Asian countries. It could also bring immediate relief to the tourism sector."
Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation Chairman Ram Chandra Das, speaking as the chief guest of the session said: "The inadequate statistics on the tourism sector is a sad reality. But we have to develop a comprehensive estimation of business losses of this sector so that we can negotiate with the higher authority of the government for financial assistance."
Pranab Saha, editor of the DBC Television, said, "A task force can be formed with the participation of all representatives of tourism-related businesses, including tour operators, travel agents, hotels, motels, resorts, airlines, and tourist transports."
Earlier, Toab, a platform of 678 tour operators of Bangladesh, estimated losses of around Tk5,700 crore for the sector during January-December this year after consulting with the stakeholders.