The civil aviation sector and the Biman Bangladesh Airlines are mired in a huge number of irregularities, said Md Mohibul Haque, senior secretary of the Civil Aviation and Tourism Ministry.
He made the comment at a seminar titled "Tourism of Bangladesh: Opportunities and Challenges" on Saturday, jointly organised by the ministry and travel magazine Vromon.
Presiding over the programme, Mohibul added, "Hundreds of crores of taka is being stolen from the civil aviation sector and the Biman Bangladesh Airlines. We are facing serious pressure while working in the sector.
"But the minister and I are able to continue working only because of the blessing of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina."
The senior secretary then spoke about several government initiatives to expand the facilities of different airports throughout the country.
Addressing the event as the chief guest, State Minister for Civil Aviation and Tourism Md Mahbub Ali said the tourism industry is suffering from a severe lack of coordination.
"We could not succeed in properly managing the Biman Bangladesh Airlines. However, we are doing our best."
He added that the ministry is making an effort to announce 2021 as a "Tourism Year," to mark Bangladesh's golden jubilee.
Speaking at the event, entrepreneur Sabur Khan reiterated that Biman's service does not meet the global standard.
Poor crisis management
Meanwhile, private sector representatives of the tourism industry criticised the government over poor crisis management, adding that the issue is negatively impacting the industry.
Syed Golam Qadir, an adviser to the Tour Operators Association of Bangladesh, said, "So far, we are safe from the coronavirus [Covid-19] outbreak. But as a destination country for tourists, we have failed to inform foreign visitors that there are no outbreaks in Bangladesh yet.
"This is why the industry is suffering from a declining number of foreign tourists."
He continued that the issue was caused by a weakness in managing such crises.
"When a big crisis such as the coronavirus outbreak or holy artisan attack arises, we fail to manage it properly," Golam added.
Toufique Rahman, the owner of tour operating firm Journey Plus, said the coronavirus outbreak across the world has impacted tourist visits in Bangladesh.
"Five foreign tourist groups, who booked tours with my firm, have canceled their pre-scheduled trips to Bangladesh. A tourism crisis management team is a must to tackle a sudden big issue. The team will give guidelines to all stakeholders of the industry," he said.
Toufique added that tourism in Bangladesh "is still a sick industry."
The seminar was moderated by Abu Sufian, editor of the Vromon, and attended by Zabed Ahmed, CEO of Bangladesh Tourism Board, Ram Chandra Das, chairman of Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation, Mokabbir Hossain, managing director and CEO of Biman and Nawajish Ali Khan, a media personality.
The event was the part of a series of seminars called "Tourism: A Penalty shoot for the economy of Bangladesh-5."