Tourism: next job creator

Sector is expected to generate 13.77 lakh jobs this year: report
The tourism and hospitality sector may grow into one of the largest employers in Bangladesh, if it is backed by policy support, investment and skills development, analysts said Saturday.
There is huge demand for skilled human resources in the largely untapped tourism and hospitality sector, Rubina H Farouq, director and head of the Institute of Hotel Management and Hospitality, said in a keynote speech.
Rubina spoke at the inauguration of a daylong international conference on tourism and hospitality at The Westin Dhaka.
The Institute of Hotel Management and Hospitality and the Trinity Communications co-organised the event, supported by Bangladesh Tourism Board, Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation, ILO Dhaka, Industry Skills Council, The Westin Dhaka and The Daily Star.
Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister Faruk Khan attended the event as the chief guest.
In 2011, the travel and tourism sector accounted for Tk 18,250 crore or 2.2 percent of Bangladesh’s gross domestic product, Rubina said, referring to a report by the World Travel and Tourism Council.
It is forecast to rise by 7.3 percent to Tk 19,590 crore in 2012 and by 6.1 percent to Tk 35,370 crore by 2022, according to the London-based institute.
The sector created 13.29 lakh jobs directly in 2011 or 1.9 percent of the country’s total employment. It is expected to generate 13.77 lakh jobs this year and 18.4 lakh jobs by 2022, according to the report.
But there is a lack of awareness on skilled employment, scope and career opportunities in the local tourism and hospitality sector, Rubina said.
The poor remuneration package and facilities paid to the unskilled people of the hospitality sector also plays an important role in deepening the problem.
At the same time, there is an acute shortage of skilled manpower in the sector although about 30 lakh people enter the job market every year, she said.
“The country needs educated and trained workforce in these fields to find solutions to problems such as unemployment and poverty,” Rubina said.
Bangladesh’s tourism sector has remained largely untapped, although the country is home to the world’s largest mangrove forest, Sundarbans, and the world’s longest unbroken beach, Cox’s Bazar, among many other attractions.
The sector attracted investment of Tk 3,430 crore in 2011, which is expected to grow by 6.5 percent this year and 6.7 percent over the next decade to Tk 6,980 crore, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council.
Rubina stressed the need for forming a partnership in training and job placements, testing and certification, providing financial support and capacity building, and arranging distance learning courses to tap the potential. “Skilled and trained manpower can be employed in local airlines, hotels, motels, resorts, restaurants and cafes,” Rubina said.
“Also they can migrate to other countries with better remuneration than they are paid now,” she said.
She said the tourism and hospitality sector can play a role in minimising unemployment and changing the entire national economy.
Rubina urged the government and the tourism industry to make best use of local youth by training them to explore the huge untapped opportunities.
WA Sarath K Weragoda, Sri Lankan high commissioner to Bangladesh, said his country plans to operate 14 flights a week from Dhaka to Colombo to boost air links between the two countries.
At present, Mihin Lanka, a low-cost airline of Sri Lanka, operates three flights a week, which is likely to be five soon, he said.
Andre Bogui, director of ILO Dhaka, Md Atharul Islam, civil aviation and tourism secretary, and AKM Bari, member of Bangladesh Tourism Board, also spoke.

-With The Daily Star input

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