Bangladesh's travel and tourism sector – one of the industries hit the hardest by the Covid-19 pandemic – suffered a massive loss of Tk26,490 crore ($3.1 billion) last year, says a latest World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) report.
The WTTC's 2021 Economic Impact Report estimated that the country's travel and tourism sector accumulated a gross domestic product (GDP) of Tk53,960 crore in 2020, which was Tk80,450 crore in 2019.
Hence, Bangladesh experienced a 32.9% decrease to the sector's contribution to the economy. Besides, over 4 lakh people involved in the country's tourism sector lost their jobs last year amid the crisis.
According to the report, Bangladesh's travel and tourism industry was responsible for more than 1.86 million jobs (2.9% of total employment) in 2019. But in 2020, the number of jobs declined 21.9% to 1.45 million (2.3% of total employment).
The country's domestic travel spending saw a decrease of 33.9% – declining from Tk68,650 crore in 2019 to Tk45,380 crore in 2020. Meanwhile, international visitor spending in Bangladesh dropped by 59.7% in 2020 – decreasing from Tk3,030 crore in 2019 to just Tk1,220 crore in 2020.
On the issue, Secretary General of Pacific Asia Travel Association (Pata) Bangladesh Chapter Taufiq Rahman said, "We had presented some demands to the government in a bid to revive this ailing industry, but no action has been taken and no allocation has been made for us."
"The pandemic has left us in a lurch and businesses have slowed to a crawl. We need support from the government to recover from this crisis," said Taufiq – who is also the founder chief executive of Journey Plus.
Earlier this month, the Tour Operators Association of Bangladesh (TOAB) sought an allocation of Tk20,000 crore exclusively for the tourism sector, excluding aviation, in the budget for the Fiscal Year 2021-22.
At the same time, the organisation demanded that all the tourist centres across the country be opened on condition of maintaining strict health guidelines and operating on 50% capacity.
Each year, the WTTC and Oxford Economics produce reports covering the economic contribution of our sector in 185 countries. The global travel & tourism sector suffered a loss of almost $4.5 trillion last year and the sector lost nearly 62 million jobs, according to the 2021 report.
India suffered highest loss in South Asia
In India alone, losses amounted to $69.4 billion with tourism and travel's contribution to national GDP falling from $191.3 billion in 2019 to $121.9 billion in 2020 – representing a drop of 36.3%. Moreover, 8.33 million jobs were lost in the country's sector.
It is followed by Sri Lanka, which suffered losses of $4.98 billion. The sector contributed a GDP of $3.98 billion in 2020 which declined 55.6%, from $8.96 billion in 2019.
Pakistan suffered a loss of $3.49 billion, followed by Bangladesh with a loss of $3.1 billion.
On the other hand, in terms of percentage of GDP contribution, the Maldives saw the highest drop of 63.8% – falling from $3.06 billion in 2019 to $1.11 billion in 2020. Moreover, 46.2 lakh jobs were lost in the country's sector.
In Nepal, losses amounted to $974.3 million – the sector's contribution to GDP dropped from $2.09 billion in 2019 to $1.11 billion in 2020.