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‘More air connectivity’ to aid tourism

Many tourist spots destroyed and not enough done to develop others: Experts

FE REPORT | January 22, 2020 00:00:00

Experts at a programme in the city suggested that more air connectivity is required for enhancing tourism in the country and making popular for the tourists the existing tourist destinations in all seasons or round the year.

They observed that authorities in Bangladesh have already destroyed many ecologically-sensitive tourist spots and not yet developed as many tourist spots while they also could not make them as attractive as they should have been due to lack of sensitivity, adequate tourist facilities and sincerity to promote the sector.

They expressed their disappointment over the slow progress of some of the infrastructure development projects which could be helpful for tourism promotion.

They suggested staking steps to raise awareness about environmentally-sustainable tourist destinations and move forward together for generating more employment, changing socio-economic condition and making economic progress through air connectivity and tourism development.

The observations came at an exchange of views meeting on 'Air Connectivity to Enhance Tourism' at a hotel in Cox's Bazar recently.

NOVOAIR organised the meeting attended by about 70 professional media persons.

NOVOAIR Managing Director Mofizur Rahman presented the keynote while its head of marketing and sales Mesbah ul Islam moderated.

In his keynote speech, Mofizur Rahman said that air connectivity has made enhancement of tourism possible in the country. The Cox's Bazar-centric domestic tourism has expanded due to the air connectivity, he noted.

"Now people travel to Cox's Bazar even for a day's trip, just to spend daytime at the beach and go back to Dhaka. There was no year-long tourist activities at Cox's Bazar earlier as it is seen now. Rather the tourist season was very stereotype like-from September until February and from Thursday till Saturday," he said.

The same stereotype tourist arrivals happen in the Sundarbans too which remains limited to winter season now, he mentioned.

"Cox's Bazar has now come out from the stereotype concept and the airliners have been operating flights round the year. The same thing may happen in the Sundarbans if the Khan Jahan Ali Airport starts operation. We need more air connectivity to popularise the tourist spots here," he said.

He noted that Bangladesh authorities could not create any tourist destination like Cox's Bazar but has destroyed the serene beauty of it. "Cox's Bazar has been turned into an unplanned and environmentally-hazardous tourist destination. But there are many tourist spots in many parts of the world where their authorities have enhanced the attraction by saving the nature in which case the Bangladeshis are not as sensitive as they need to be," he viewed.

Like Cox's Bazar, Saint Martin's, Sunderbans and Jaflong are also ecologically-sensitive but they are under destructive activities, he said.

Giving more examples, Mr Mofiz said that people come to visit Jaflong via Tetulia, traveling a long way after a day-long stay there to enjoy the beauty of Jaflong for three hours only. But the tourists do not get proper WASH, refreshment facilities and food shops. The noise pollution of the stone crushing machines and other anti-tourist activities create havoc, he further said.

Mr Mofiz said that it is the role of the national tourism organisation (NTO) to take the lead to promote the tourism sector where airline operators, hoteliers and tour operators work as the supporters. Private sector cannot take the lead role for this, he stated.

Regarding the preparation to operate flight to China's Kunming given the special tourist zone-centric activities in Cox's Bazar, he said the airliners always want to increase connectivity once the infrastructure is developed.

However, he was not hopeful of the special tourist zone in Cox's Bazar as the infrastructure development project is not progressing intensively. He said the infrastructure development work started in March, 1984, and could not be completed even in 2020. "The same is the case with the construction work of Khan Jahan Ali Airport which started in 2007. The authorities still talking about land acquisition," he added.

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