We’re the most hospitable nation in world : Menon

PATA Bangladesh Chapter honours 15 industry heroes

A Monitor Report 16 May, 2017  |    -      +
Dhaka : Fifteen travel, tourism, aviation, media and hospitality industry heroes of the country were honoured at PATA Night hosted by PATA Bangladesh Chapter at Regency Hotel and Resort in the city on May 13.

Rashed Khan Menon, Minister for Civil Aviation and Tourism, gave away the awards in presence of Andrew Jones. Chairman, Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) and Shahid Hamid, President, PATA Bangladesh Chapter and industry colleagues.

PATA Lifetime Achievement Awards were presented to Abdul Mannan, Chairman, Bengal Airlift Limited; Abdul-Muyeed Chowdhury CEO, Tiger Tours; Shahabuddin Ahmad, Editor, The Travel World; and Raquib Siddiqi- Chief Editor, The Bangladesh Monitor.

Excellence in Tourism Education award was presented to Dr Mojib Uddin Ahmed; Hospitality Entrepreneur of the Year went to Kazi Tareq Shams, Managing Director, Lakeshore Hotels; while Excellence in Hospitality Industry to Atique Rahman, Group Executive Director, Lakeshore Hotels.

Excellence in Tourism Development honour was accorded to Kazi Wahidul Alam, Founder Editor, The Bangladesh Monitor and Faridul Haque, Managing Director, Tour Planners Ltd.

Culinary Excellence Award was given to Tony Khan, General Manager, Ratnodweep Resort; while Airline of the Year award to US-Bangla Airlines.

News Media of the Year honour went to bdnews24.com, Dhaka, Outstanding Contribution in Tours and Travel to Bengal Tours Ltd., and Journey Plus, Dhaka, while Digitisation and Marketing Award- Astute Horse Business and Marketing Solutions Ltd., Dhaka.

The awards were presented by PATA Bangladesh for the first time in its history.

Safe country

Speaking on the occasion, Rashed Khan Menon said, Bangladesh is a safe country and we are the most hospitable nation in the world. The country is a perfect destination for adventure travellers who want an experience off the beaten path with places such as Sundarbans, where you will find interesting wildlife and the largest mangrove in the world.

Visitors can also travel to Sylhet or Srimongal and visit some beautiful tea plantations in the green mountains where they can experience a colorful local culture.

Still a secret

Also Bangladesh has tremendous opportunities to develop religious tourism with thousands of beautiful mosques, some old Hindu temples and remarkable Buddhist monasteries across the country waiting to be visited. The whole Chittagong Hill Districts are also worth visiting. I like to invite you all to rediscover Beautiful Bangladesh while it is still a secret and make your own stories!

The minister thanked the PATA Bangladesh Chapter for recognising the contributions of personalities involved in tourism development of Bangladesh. "It's a great way to show respect, provide inspiration and create motivation to many others who are also involved in the tourism industry," he said, adding, "it's a bold step towards the further growth of our tourism industry in Bangladesh."

Mega projects

Menon said, the government very recently we have finished two mega projects in Cox's Bazar which was inaugurated by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina : One of that is the 80 km Cox's Bazar-Teknaf Marine Drive. New potentials of tourism opened up in the district with the inauguration of the driveway which would attract a huge number of local and foreign tourists to the region and help accelerate the district's socioeconomic development.

Another project is modernisation of Cox's Bazar Airport. A Boeing B737-800 aircraft touched down at the airport on May 6 as its runway has already been expanded. It would unlock the potentials of the region, enabling people to improve their socioeconomic condition and enjoy the natural beauty of Cox's Bazar, the world's longest sea beach. These two would usher in a era of our tourism sector.

The 29th meeting of the UNWTO Commission for East Asia and the Pacific and the UNWTO Commission for South Asia (CAP-CSA) in the port city Chittagong on May 16 and 17. The event will be a landmark for the country's tourism industry as it is the first ever event of the world's highest tourism organisation in our land. A high-level UNWTO delegation led by its Taleb Rifai, Secretary General would be present.

Menon said the government is already working on with the tourism Master Plan and a consultant has already been designated for this purpose. The government has declared 2016 as Tourism Year and has now extended it up to 2018. This is just an instance how present government likes to Hive more importance to this sector and bring tourism into limelight.

Positive movement

Shahid Hamid said, PATA Bangladesh Chapter was established 30 years ago with 20 members. The Chapter has undertaken various activities includeing holding the South Asia Chapter meeting and PATA New Tourism Frontiers Forum 2016.

He said, we see a positive movement towards a better prospect of a tourism industry as a whole. With various development in recent years the tourism industry is experiencing a positive momentum notable ones being establishing Bangladesh Tourism Board (BTB), creating a branding slogan, aggressive participation in overseas travel fairs, government recognition of tourism as a trust sector.

Shahid Hamid said the growth of hospitality establishment in the country in recent years has been phenomenal. The opening of Le Meridien, Four Points by Sheraton, Amari Dhaka, expansion of Lakeshore, has added brands and quality accommodation in the capital city. More are coming in a year or two including Marriot, Courtyard, InterContinental, Sofitel, Novotel and Holiday Inn.

The expansion is visible with the recent opening of world-class resorts- The Palace, Grand Sultan, Dusai, Nazimgarh in Sylhet. Similarly, we all have seen growth in Cox's Bazar Royal Tulip, Sayman; Hotel Grand Park Barisal, properties in Kuakata and we are happy to see other hotels and resorts in various destinations across the country.

The experienced hotelier said we have seen a double digit growth in domestic and regional tourism. Private airlines are expanding their fleets for domestic and regional routes.

Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport is handling about 7 million passengers a year. Expansion of Sylhet, Chittagong, Cox's Bazar and Jessore airports are being undertaken. Dhaka-Chittagong four-lane highway has been completed. Beautiful Marine Drive is open to public.

Padma Bridge

Opening of Padma Bridge will be a milestone linking the capital with southern part of the country. Similarly, capital cities' flyovers made the substantial improvement on the transportation. Elevated expressway and Metro rail work is going on.

These are positive indications of growth of tourism Industry. Travel bookings including hotel, air, bus, train are being done on the finger tips. All the above has happened in a span of five to seven years and the progress is surely and certainly will continue in the coming years. Needless to say, it has all been possible for a healthy Public Private Partnership, Shahid Hamid said.

Andrew Jones

Andrew Jones. Chairman, Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) who is visiting Bangladesh for the third time said, "I am pleased to attend this very special event and to be a part of PATA Night organised by the PATA Bangladesh Chapter."

"All of us at the Association are happy to see that the PATA Bangladesh Chapter and associates are making concerted efforts in providing much needed support to the development of tourism in Bangladesh."

"Such actions and enthusiasm are fundamental to the principles of PATA in promoting responsible and sustainable tourism throughout the country," Andrew Jones said.

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