The process of enhancing responsibilities of the tourist police and their supporting staff is underway, as Parjatan Corporation has undertaken to provide all types of facilities for visitors at tourism sites, said State Minister for Tourism Mahbub Ali.
"The security of tourists is very important for the tourism industry and we are working on providing all the needed facilities at every tourism destination. A tourist must feel safe while traveling," said the minister.
He was speaking as chief guest at the inaugural function of the three-day '12th Chattogram Travel and Tourism Fair' on Thursday at Hotel Peninsula in the port city.
Aviation and tourism magazine, 'The Bangladesh Monitor,' organized the fair where Mahbubul Alam, president of Chattogram Chamber of Commerce and Industry, was a special guest. Bangladesh Tourism Board (BTB) chief executive officer, Zabed Ahmed, was also present on the occasion.
Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation (BPC) has undertaken to ensure washrooms, changing rooms, rest rooms and other facilities for tourists at tourist sites. BPC will design the project, Mahbub Ali added.
The minister suggested advancing the country's tourism, giving priority to eco-tourism, with the natural beauty of Chattogram.
"We have undertaken a big project at Parki Beach which is about to end and the construction of Sheikh Hasina Tower outside Cox's Bazar is ongoing. A tourist zone for foreign tourists will also be established at Khurushkul to facilitate the free movement of foreigners as they please," he said.
"A Cox's Bazar master plan is also being drawn up," Mahbub Ali said, adding that "the masterplan will be prepared with ecotourism in mind, where one-stop service is needed for ecotourism, what type of project is required for which site, and more."
Zabed Ahmed said as many as 3 lakh foreign tourists visited Bangladesh in 2019. After that everything came to a standstill after the Covid pandemic and now the tourism industry is regaining momentum.
"If we can take our domestic tourist turnout to four crore, then investors would be interested to invest. A lot of local and foreign investment is needed to further tourism in the country to attract foreign visitors," he said.
Zabed Ahmed suggested increased connectivity and creating alternative tourist destinations.
"Khagrachhari should be the alternative for Sajek, and Sonadia for St Martins. We should also reduce our hotel room rent and airfare. Now more than 35 lakh people are employed in the travel and tourism industry. About 1.5 crore people are indirectly dependent on this sector," Zabed Ahmed said.
Chattogram chamber President Mahbubul Alam said Chattogram is the hub for religious tourism that can attract tourists from Thailand and India, while Sylhet and Chattogram both have spiritual connections for people elsewhere.
About 26 travel and tourism companies will participate in this fair till Saturday, 8 January, from 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM daily.