Pre-Budget Discussion on Civil Aviation and Tourism

More allocations, incentives sought for travel and tourism sector

A Monitor Report 16 May, 2017  |    -      +
Dhaka : Aviation and tourism sector leaders at a discussion meeting sought more allocations in the National Budget and incentives for travel and tourism sector for its further growth as a leading foreign exchange earner for the country.

They made the request at a "Pre-Budget Discussion on Civil Aviation and Tourism," organised by Aviation and Tourism Journalists Forum of Bangladesh (ATJFB), at Hotel Abakash in the city on May 3.

The leaders pointed out that incentives are being provided to 20 sectors of the economy, but not to travel and tourism - a sector which retains 100 per cent of the foreign exchange earned inside the country.

Abdus Salam Arif, Joint Secretary General, Association of Travel Agents of Bangladesh (ATAB), demanded that VAT on ticket sales by the travel agencies be withdrawn.

He said that out of the total ticket sales, 34 per cent is done through travel agents. Of the remaining 66 per cent, 31 per cent is done from outside the country, 4 per cent though online travel agencies, 4 per cent through credit card, 22 per cent from budget carriers and five per cent directly from the airlines.

Except travel agencies, there is no VAT or AIT imposed on tickets sold by the rest 66 per cent. So he called for its inclusion in the air tickets sold by all as it was being done in the cases of other taxes. They pointed out that retention by them (travel agents) is very minimal and paying VAT on the air ticket becomes a burden.

A paper presented by Mofizur Rahman, Managing Director, NOVOAIR, read of by Ishtiaq Husain, Joint Secretary, ATJFB, called for lowering fuel cost, aeronautical and other charges and ease the provisioning of spare parts removing Customs' complexities.

Toufiq Rahman, Director, Tour Operators Association of Bangladesh (TOAB) suggested that the hotels determine their room rates on the rate of exchange (RoE) fixed by Bangladesh Bank. He spoke against the imposition of VAT on service charge by the hotels.

M Faruk Khan, Chairman, Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism, emphasised on tour operators and travel agents getting the incentives as well as duty free import of vehicles for use by the tourists.

He also called for giving the professionals of the sector CIP status.

Rashed Khan Menon, Minister for Civil Aviation and Tourism, spoke in favour of incentives for travel agents and tour operators as well as duty free import of vehicles for tourism purposes.

He drew the attention of the State Minister for Finance about the matter. And spoke of introducing tourism award to recognise their contribution.

"Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) has put forward its suggestions. We are also working to adjust landing charges," Menon said.

MA Mannan, State Minister for Finance said as he had limitations regarding commitments, he would take up the matter with his senior minister and hoped for an acceptable solution.

He invited the travel agents, tour operators and other trade bodies for more discussions so that these can be carried out.

Presided over by ATJFB president Nadira Kiron, the discussion was also addressed by Dr M Nasir Uddin, Chief Executive Officer, Bangladesh Tourism Board (BTB), Dr Aparup Chowdhury, Chairman, Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation (BPC), Taufique Uddin Ahmed, President, Tour Operators Association of Bangladesh (TOAB) and Manzur Murshed Mahbub, President, Association of Travel Agents of Bangladesh (ATAB).

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