The owners of hotels, resorts and guesthouses, one of the worst-hit sectors by the Covid-19 pandemic, on Tuesday sought a tax waiver on equipment and products they import to ensure modern facilities for foreign tourists.
At the first meeting of the FBCCI's Standing Committee on Hotel, Motel, Resorts and Guest House Development held at the FBCCI office, businesspeople said they have to pay VAT on services and a 37 % tax on income, although hotels and motels are an integral part of tourism, said a press release
They also claimed this huge tax burden hampers the further flourishing of this sector. And lower tax and value-added tax (VAT) would help them provide better services.
Addressing the meeting virtually, the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industries (FBCCI) Senior Vice President Mostofa Azad Chowdhury Babu urged the standing committee to find out the possibilities, problems and possible solutions in this sector and submit them to the FBCCI in the form of a proposal.
He said the matter would be discussed in the policy-making body of the government considering the proposal.
FBCCI Senior Vice President Mostofa Azad Chowdhury Babu also said hotels, motels and guesthouses were among the sectors most affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. The sector has also been playing an important role in earning foreign exchange.
The members of the committee demanded exemption from duties and taxes to compensate for the loss as the Covid-19 pandemic has almost destroyed the business of hotels, resorts and guesthouses.
To attract foreign tourists to Bangladesh, the committee demanded the relaxation of the obligation to test for Covid-19 within 48 hours before the flight and the simplification of the visa process.
The committee members blamed inadequate branding for the non-development of tourism in Bangladesh and urged the government for branding Bangladesh in the tourism sector through the Tourism Board.
In the meeting, they also called for necessary allocation in the budget and formulating a guest house development policy.
Khabir Uddin Ahmed, chairman of the committee, said at least three of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals announced by the United Nations are directly involved with tourism. Other goals are also indirectly dependent on the development of tourism. Therefore, to achieve SDG by 2030, the country's tourism industry must be developed.
FBCCI Director Syed Moazzem Hossain called for ensuring quality services to tourists at reasonable prices at hotels and resorts and also called for the apprentice programmes to create skilled manpower.
FBCCI Secretary-General Mohammad Mahfuzul Hoque said the FBCCI has been attaching due importance to the development of tourism. It has also included the tourism sector in the agenda of the Canada-Bangladesh Joint Working Group.
Co-Chairman of the Committee Khandaker Ruhul Amin, Taofiq Uddin Ahmed, Mohiuddin Helal, AHM Aminul Islam Bhuiyan, Md Mahbub Alam, Mohammad Jahangir Alam, Mehdi Amin Chowdhury and other members were also present at the meeting.