The 5th Bangladesh International Tourism Fair (BITF) 2015 ended Saturday at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre (BICC) in the city with good response from tourists.
Almost all the exhibitors were happy with the turnout of visitors except for an untoward incident that took place immediately after the inauguration of the fair, forcing the exhibitors to close their stalls for more than six hours.
The visitors were mostly interested in advance booking of tickets at various airlines and planned holidaymaking during two Eid festivals, organisers and exhibitors said.
Besides, a large number of visitors took advantage of special offers made by various tour operators at the fair that gave them financial gain.
But local tourists availed the offers of Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation (BPC) and showed much interest in guided tour to visit various tourist attractions of the country.
Rezaul Ekram Razu, executive director of Bangladesh Foundation for Tourism Development (BFTD) that organised the three-day fair, told the FE that the country’s image to foreign participants was tarnished by an unexpected incident on the first day.
They questioned how a government could interrupt an international fair suddenly and whether the government was really interested to promote the tourism industry, he said.
“I think we are mostly successful in achieving our objectives: branding Bangladesh, creating tourists for both home and abroad and awareness building. Our biggest success was formation of the South Asian Federation of Tourism,” said Mr Razu.
About success in regard to business, Mr Razu said more than 1,000 tickets of various airlines were sold and transaction worth around US$ 8.0 million was made.
Damcho Rinzin, spokesperson for Tourism Council of Bhutan, said the response was very good on Friday. A large number of visitors were booking for holidaymaking in Bhutan during Eid, he said.
“Usually, Bangladeshi visitors don’t choose Bhutan for leisure tourism rather they go to distant countries like Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and others,” he added. He suggested that Bangladeshi visitors should contact them directly but not with middlemen to avoid cheating and harassment. At present, about 6,000 Bangladeshi tourists visit Bhutan every year and the number of visitors is rising, he added.
Phav Proeun, managing director of Kampoul Adventure Tour of Cambodia that took part in the fair for the first time, said response was very good as they received significant inquiries at the fair. Cambodia provides visa-on-arrival through authentic travel agents or tour companies there, he added.
“Bangladeshi visitors should send all the documents including passport photocopies to us and we will send them invitation. The visa procedure is still a problem in Cambodia,” he said.
At present, a small number of Bangladeshi people visit Cambodia, but interest is growing among them gradually, said Mr Proeun.
BPC marketing manager Parvez Ahmed Chowdhury said they got satisfactory response from local tourists to take up various offers made by the corporation.
“We have privilege card where one enjoys 25 per cent discount on accommodation in three rooms at any BPC hotels, motels and is applicable to three rooms. Besides, we have monsoon discount at our units along with seasonal package tour,” said Mr Chowhdury.
So far they have sold more than 100 privilege cards and got booking from about 50 people. Domestic tourists are more interested in guided package tours of BPC as they think it more convenient and secure, he added.
A visitor named Nurul Karim came from Panthapath to get special discount offered by various airlines.
“I have bought two tickets of Dhaka-Kolkata from Regent Airways at about 50 per cent discount. Besides, I have booked for countries in another airline to go to Canada where my children live in,” he said.
Shafiqur Rahman, a visitor who lives in Mymensingh, came to visit the fair while he was staying in Dhaka for business purposes. He mainly searched for various holiday packages the participating tour operators were offering.
“I am looking for package tour offers in Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia or India that these tour companies have as I have plan for family tour,” said Mr Rahman.
Golam Mahbub Alam came from Panthapath with a different view that was to see the prospect of tourism industry as he himself is involved with this business.