Advanced Passenger Information System to gather tourist data by next year

Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism, says at tourism fellowship event
- A Monitor Report01 Oct, 2019 | 187 Views|-+
Dhaka : The Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism has customised "Advanced Passenger Information System”, a software which is also being used in other countries. This will enable the ministry to know beforehand who is coming from abroad and for what purpose.

“Say, someone is coming from London or Dubai. We will get the information in advance as to whether he was coming for business or tourism or for any other purposes.”

Md Mohibul Haque, Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism, said this while addressing "Certificate Awarding Ceremony: Tourism Media Fellowship 2019" as the special guest at the National Press Club in the city on September 25.

Aviation and Tourism Journalists Forum of Bangladesh (ATJFB) and Bangladesh Tourism Board (BTB) jointly organised the certificate giving ceremony.

Md Mahbub Ali, State Minster for Civil Aviation and Tourism, was present as the chief guest at the programme which was also addressed, among others, by Kazi Wahidul Alam, Editor, The Bangladesh Monitor, Dr Bhuban Chandra Biswas, Chief Executive Officer, BTB, Nadira Kiron, President and Tanjim Anwar, General Secretary, ATJFB.

A total of 10 journalists won BTB's media fellowship award 2019.

The Secretary said, the software will be used at land ports also. Besides the ministry and BTB, the figures will be accessible to SB and DGFI. This is likely to be implemented by middle of next year.

“We have taken steps to gather accurate statistics of the tourists. At this moment we receive the data from Special Branch (SB) of police, whether they enter the country through land ports or airports.” This figure is only of the number of pure holidaymakers - who had indicated in the form at the entry points their purpose of visit as tourism. Only real tourist number is reflected in this data.

The tourist numbers have risen according to SB data. It was 1,58,948 in 2014, dropping to 1,41,917 in 2015, rising to 2,00,995 in 2016, 2,65,491 in 2017, 2,67,707 in 2018, and 1,89,887 in 2019 (up to July).

Mohibul Haque said many come for business purposes. After completing their business activities in Bangladesh, many of them may feel the urge to travel to tourist spots in Bangladesh. This figure is not reflected in the data provided by SB. This has been the traditional method. So we are going for APIS.

Master Plan

He said, “We heard about Master Plan for long. Action is now being taken. A firm which will draw up a Master Plan is awaiting permission from the ministry. The go-ahead is likely to be given on October 7. “I have asked the Chief Executive Officer of Bangladesh Tourism Board (BTB) to form a committee along with private stakeholders so that it is a Master Plan in the real sense of the term, and after it is drawn up, everyone understands their duties and responsibilities.”

The Tourism Secretary said, the country did not have a law for tour operators. The State Minister, after taking up the helms of the ministry, has taken the initiative in this regard. “We have drafted a law and sent it to the cabinet. It will be placed before Jatiya Sangsad after it receives the approval of the cabinet. In the same way, we have drafted a law for tour guides.”

He said, they have human resources but they have been unable to turn them into skilled persons. They still have foreign chefs at the five-star hotels in the country. At National Hotel and Tourism Training Institute (NHTTI) premises at Mohakhali in the city, there is a training institute, as well as hotel accommodation and restaurant.

NHTTI will be exclusively devoted to training, he said. They may go for offering five-year courses in cooperation with foreign training institutes.

Mohibul Haque said the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism has two acres of land opposite the Hajj Camp at Ashkona. Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) also has four and a half acres of land. They are looking at their best utilisation, he said.

Pitiable roads

He said, they have been unable to give the required facilities to the tourists. Describing his recent visit to Sylhet and Sunamganj, he said, the roads to Jaflong and Bichanakandi were in a pitiable condition.

But BTB cannot do anything alone. A coordinated effort is needed. If the roads had been good, then many tourists would have gone there.

BPC, BTB

Removing misconceptions about Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation (BPC) and Bangladesh Tourism Board (BTB), he said, BPC is now simply a commercial organisation while BTB works for promotion of tourism.

Speaking about other steps, Tourist Police has been formed. “I have found them at various places. Beach management committees have been formed. We are always putting in efforts.”

The law regarding BPC is old and needs to be updated. Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman formed this prganisation with an ordinance. It is still being run with Chairman and two Directors. The present State Minister has taken the initiative to draft a new law increasing the number of directors and members.

State Minister's optimism

The State Minister in his speech as chief guest said, the country is moving forward in all sectors under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. He expressed his optimism that tourism sector will also move forward under her leadership.

Md Mahbub Ali said, we will see as to how connectivity to different tourist spots and safety for the tourists could be improved.

He suggested taking tourists to the ancient capital of Sonargaon. Dhaka city tours could also be introduced. Sightseeing buses could also be there in greater (administrative) divisions, he said.

Md Mahbub Ali said investments are coming. Foreign investors realise that if they invest here they will get a return. Tour operators from abroad are also expressing interest in Bangladesh.

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