Friday 24th of May 2024

Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan eyes Bangladesh tourists

AKM Sayedad Hossain »

Heavily plagued by the corona virus in 2020 and 2021, countries in South Asia, particularly Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan are eyeing the South Asian tourists, particularly Bangladeshis, to give a boost to their tourism sectors, sources said.

As Bhutan reopens to territory to international tourists, Sherab Dorji, acting Bhutanese ambassador in Dhaka, has invited Bangladeshi tourists to enjoy the best of the experiences and bring back full of beautiful memories after visiting Bhutan.

“We very much value and welcome tourists from Bangladesh and other countries. We are confident that every visitor will enjoy the best of the experiences and bring back full of beautiful memories after visiting Bhutan,” he said.

The diplomat said with its raised Sustainable Development Fee (SDF) Bhutan believes that it will put them in good stead to mitigate climate change and maintain carbon-neutral tourism which will not only benefit Bhutan, but also the world as a whole.

“As the Covid-19 situation around the world improved and with high coverage of vaccination in the country, the Royal government of Bhutan now feels confident,” he said.
Explaining why the Sustainable Development Fee (SDF) is being raised from $65 to $200, the diplomat said Bhutan introduced SDF of $65 in 1991 and an increase in SDF was due a long time back.

Secondly, he said, Bhutan is a carbon neutral country and the country also sequesters 9.4 million tons of carbon against its emission capacity of 3.8 million tons.
With the peak tourist season (autumn) arriving, Nepal’s tourism industry is expected to leap ahead as global tourism has been on track gradually…
Nepal’s economy is expected to grow by 3.9% (at market prices) in fiscal year (FY) 2022 from an estimated 2.3% growth in FY2021, says the latest Asian Development Outlook (ADO) 2022, the flagship economic publication of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), and it’s Macroeconomic Update.

With Bangladesh’s economy showed sustained growth during the pandemic period and has been on sound track, Nepal is targeting Bangladeshi tourists, sources said.
In August alone, altogether 41,304 international travellers entered the country through the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA). India, the United States, the United Kingdom (UK), Bangladesh and China were the top five source markets with 16,147, 4,066, 2,826, 1,751 and 1,289 tourists, respectively. In the same month of 2021 and 2020, the country received 6,093 and 584 tourists, respectively. However, the country played host to as many as 92,604 travellers in August 2019.
According to a forecast by the WTTC, tourism may register an annual average growth rate of 5.8 per cent from 2022 to 2032 as against the 2.7 per cent rise in global GDP. This sector may also generate 126 million new jobs.

In line with the trend of global tourism recovery, Nepal’s tourism sector has also been bracing for revival for the past couple of months. The nation has welcomed a total of 322,426 foreign tourists in the first eight months this year.

In August alone, altogether 41,304 international travellers entered the country through the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA). India, the United States, the United Kingdom (UK), Bangladesh and China were the top five source markets with 16,147, 4,066, 2,826, 1,751 and 1,289 tourists, respectively. In the same month of 2021 and 2020, the country received 6,093 and 584 tourists, respectively. However, the country played host to as many as 92,604 travellers in August 2019.

The growth of Nepal is expected to rebound on the back of the ongoing vaccination campaign against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic to control infections, fostering a gradual normalization in economic activity and a steady path to higher growth supported by accommodative macroeconomic policies.

“However, slowing growth in advanced economies exacerbated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, along with disrupted trade flows and higher oil and other commodity prices, is expected to push inflation and may exert further pressure on Nepal’s balance of payments and foreign exchange reserves,” said ADB Country Director for Nepal Arnaud Cauchois.

According to a forecast by the WTTC, tourism may register an annual average growth rate of 5.8 per cent from 2022 to 2032 as against the 2.7 per cent rise in global GDP. This sector may also generate 126 million new jobs.

Meanwhile, Sri Lankan High Commissioner in Dhaka Professor Sudharshan Seneviratne expressed this view while talking to The Business Standard in the city recently.
The Sri Lanka Convention Bureau (SLCB) in collaboration with the High Commission of Sri Lanka in Bangladesh and Sri Lankan Airlines convened a MICE Promotion Evening recently at the High Commission of Sri Lanka in Dhaka.

Professor Sudharshan Seneviratne highlighted the emergence of Bangladesh as a key target market in the South Asian region with its palpable presence. “Bangladesh has proven its self-determination, economic development and resilience within a very limited time frame while broadening its horizons especially in the fields of trade, investment and tourism. 50 years of reflection of the two nations will undoubtedly maximize its collective potential in the coming years and the “Evening of MICE Promotion” will be the first of many in unleashing centuries of solidarity and fraternal ties between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, he added.

The two countries are celebrating the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations this year and together will forge ahead in friendship and solidarity.
Sri Lanka is expected one million tourists by the end of 2022 and 1.5 million the following year.

According to SLTDA data, approximately 500,000 visitors arrived in Sri Lanka by July 31. The United Kingdom, India, Germany, France, and Canada are major visitors to the island country. Sri Lanka has dubbed 2022 ‘Visit Sri Lanka Year,’ and authorities are prioritizing the recovery of tourism as the country sinks deeper into its worst economic crisis since independence.

Tourism has long been a key source of capital for Sri Lanka. In 2018 the tourism sector accounted for $4.4 billion — 5.6 percent of the country’s GDP. But this dropped to just 0.8 percent in 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic put the brakes on global travel. Tourism of the island has long been a key source of capital for Sri Lanka. I 2018 the tourism sector accounted for $4.4 billion — 5.6 percent of the country’s Gross Domestics Product (GDP).

After India and the Maldives, Bangladeshi tourists hold the third position in Sri Lanka among the South Asian countries. A total of 6031 Indians visited Sri Lanka, a total of 1,207 Maldives and a total of 176 Bangladeshis visited Sri Lanka during the period of July, 2022, according to statistics prepared by the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority The Bangladesh economy has been clocking 7.00—8.00 per cent growth over the years and the country successfully contained the corona virus. Bangladesh has also become a member of the middle-income country this year.

Bangladesh today enjoys a steady economic growth of nearly 7 per cent per annum and as a result, a mere $35 billion economy of the mid-1990s grew more than nine-fold to become a $330 billion economy in 2020.

Bangladesh is expected to become the 24th largest economy in the world by 2030 despite a rise in poverty, unemployment and income losses because of the severe impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a government report.

“By 2041, Bangladesh will also become a digital economy,” said the National Human Development Report (NHDR) prepared by the Economic Relations Division (ERD).
“As Sri Lanka offers on-arrival visas to Bangladeshi travelers, our well-off citizens also like to visit the island country” said a local tour operator.
In 2017, a total of 15,510 Bangladeshis visited Sri Lanka, a total of 10,487 visited in 2018, a total of 8,261 Bangladeshis in 2019, a total of 1,986 Bangladeshis in 2022, a total of 1,496 Bangladeshis and during January-July period, a total of 1721 Bangladeshis visited the island, according to statistics prepared by the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority

Chairman Sri Lanka Convention Bureau Thisum Jayasuriya said Bangladesh is a key source market in the South Asian region for MICE and has shown a positive trend in its increase in the MICE traffic over the past years. The Sri Lankan Airlines direct air connectivity has positively encouraged to develop the sector.

Meeting Incentive Convention Exhibition (MICE) Tourism Sri Lanka MICE arrivals have been increasing in Sri Lanka constantly and they will continue to grow. Around 11 percent of the total visitors into Sri Lanka represent the MICE (Meeting Incentive Convention Exhibition) segment. Sri Lanka has a long tradition of hosting major MICE and business meetings events. The country offers facilities for corporate training programs and natural settings for exclusive incentives
Sri Lanka is working towards catering to the Bangladesh MICE visitors in coordination with the Sri Lankan MICE stakeholders to sustain and increase the volume of Business by adding special experiential features.

In addressing the gathering, Manager Sri Lankan Airlines in Bangladesh Sharuka Wickrama Adittiya said that Sri Lankan Airlines will endeavor to provide its best services from departure to the inflight experience and return journey to all its passengers, which will be especially extended to the MICE groups along with a warm welcome on board Sri Lanka’s national carrier. SriLankan Airlines presently operates daily flights on the Colombo-Dhaka sector being an added advantage for all travellers.

Both Sri Lanka and Bangladesh hold great fortitude in sectoral cooperation particularly in the areas of tourism, trade and commerce, shipping and people to people contact whilst being significant members of SAARC, BIMSTEC and the Commonwealth of Nations. Sri Lanka shares a great deal of comfort in doing business with Bangladesh and has been able to maintain a symbiotic relationship which entails the future growth of both countries. Meanwhile, tourism in Sri Lanka has yet to recover fully from three consecutive blows inflicted by the 2019 Easter bombs, two pandemic years, and the island’s worst economic crisis in decades this year.

After more than 20 years of civil war, which ended in 2009, the island of idyllic landscapes and white sand beaches was on pace to boost tourism.
The sector grew to become one of the largest foreign-exchange earners in the country.

According to the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, tourism remained the third greatest source of foreign money in the five years beginning in 2014, accounting for 14 percent of the total, behind only remittances sent by the diaspora and the textile industry.

In 2018, the island received a record 2.3 million visitors. A year later, however, three churches and three luxury hotels were bombed, killing 269 people, including 40 foreigners. More than 400 people were injured in the attacks by Islamist militant in April of that year when the Christian minority was celebrating Easter Sunday.

Writer: Associate Editor, Diplomats

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