The local airlines in Bangladesh should ensure sufficient incentives to lure more inbound tourists to Bangladesh, aviation stakeholders have observed.
"Air ticket prices are a very important factor in bringing foreign tourists to Bangladesh. But the high price of tickets has become a regular phenomenon," said Afsia Jannat Saleh, vice-president of the Association of Travel Agents Bangladesh (Atab).
She was addressing a seminar, titled "Role of the Aviation Industry in Bangladesh Tourism Development: Prospects and Challenges," jointly organised by the Atab and Bangladesh Tourism Board at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre (BICC) yesterday.
Afsia stressed that the local airlines should push their General Sales Agents (GSAs) to promote Bangladesh abroad, and should not target ticket sales only within the country.
AKM Bari, former secretary general of Atab, said, "We have seen that Indonesia played a great initiative to attract tourists after the Bali attack in 2002 by offering special discount packages where Airlines had a big role."
"Our Airlines should declare special packages to attract inbound travellers," he added.
However, Kamrul Islam, general manager (Public Relation) of US-Bangla Airlines, said, "If the operational costs of airlines are not reduced, it would be quite tough to give a discount on the ticket price."
Tanzim Anwar, president of the Aviation and Tourism Journalists' Forum of Bangladesh (ATJFB), said, "We have an air service agreement with 53 countries. But we are utilising less than 50%".
Abdus Salam Aref, secretary general of Atab, was the keynote presenter at the seminar.
Last year, while Bangladesh welcomed 5.22 lakh foreign tourists, India received 6.19 million, Sri Lanka hosted 7.19 lakh, and Nepal attracted 6.14 lakh.
Experts believe that poor tourism infrastructure, complex visa policies, food adaptation problems, lack of amusements, social restrictions, inadequate direct flights and comfortable transportation facilities detract tourists from Bangladesh.