No tourists at tourist spots: Parjatan corporation can’t shirk responsibilities

When the private hotels are overcrowded, the establishments of the Bangladesh Tourism Corporation are unable to attract tourists. Who is responsible for this failure?

Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation (BAPAC) was established in 1973 to provide international standard tourism experience and other facilities. But it cannot even maintain the domestic standards now. The public service institution is continuously incurring losses.

A Prothom Alo investigation finds that most of the hotels and motels of the tourism corporation are located in attractive places. Their security is also good. Despite this, the lack of professionalism of the officials, mismanagement, irregularities, corruption, nepotism and bureaucracy are the reasons the tourists do not go there.

There are 51 hotels, motels, restaurants and bars under the Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation. Of those, the corporation operates 35 units while 16 have been leased out. They had to count a loss of Tk 100 million on average as of the last fiscal year (2022-23).

A report by the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism says 33 out of 35 commercial hubs failed to meet revenue targets.

Surprisingly, Motel Upal in Cox’s Bazar has not been renovated since its opening in 1972. The motel has 38 rooms. Of these, 12 were rented on 13 February and 16 on 14 February. On average 10-12 rooms are rented most of the year.

A Prothom Alo correspondent visited the motel and found that the rooms were damp and the furniture was old. On the other hand, 15 of the 60 rooms in Motel Labonee have been abandoned for two years. The remaining 45 are also in bad shape. Four of these rooms were rented on 11 February and three on 12 February. On an average, not more than three-four rooms are rented per day.

There is no reason to think that tourists will go there unless they have no other options left. An official of a private company came to the hotel with his family. But after seeing everything, he said, “I am going back because there is no condition to stay here.”

Neither the tourism corporation nor the hotel authorities have any attempt to retain the tourists who go back. They just work there.

We also learned from the Prothom Alo report that tourist hotels have been set up in many places due to political considerations. When the hotels and motels in attractive places are failing to attract tourists, it is easy to imagine what could be the situation if the tourist centre is set up on political considerations.

Changing the mentality is more important than infrastructure development and elimination of mismanagement to overcome the plight of Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation’s establishments. Importance should be given to the requirements and facilities of tourists. It’s not enough to just set up establishments at attractive locations.

Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister Faruk Khan talked about taking initiatives to make the institutions under the parjatan corporation profitable. Officials of the respective organisations also talked about modernisation. But the question is, why has no effective initiative been taken in this regard for so long?

Our point is - the establishments that have been constructed out of political considerations should be closed immediately. Burden of loss cannot be increased. Get rid of the people who cannot show professionalism and cannot run the organisation profitably.

Instead of delivering lectures, sustainable and effective steps should be taken immediately to make tourism corporation hotels and restaurants profitable. And, while leasing, the experience and expertise of respective institutions should be prioritised over the political considerations.