The need for enacting tourism law
Mohammad Shahidul Islam
Bangladesh has very diverse and distinctive flora and fauna, which include a mixture of species at the Sundarban and Chittagong Hill Tracts. Many of them are unique to Bangladesh and largely unknown to the rest of the world. In fact, numerous globally threatened and endangered species inhabit Bangladesh. Combination of diverse landscapes, unspoiled habitat, and some rare wild plant and animal species have become a subject of growing international attention and conservation efforts. Tourism is always proud of having inherited all resources of environment. Besides all measures, tourism law may effectively come forward to contribute to over all conservation of environment. Deforestation and poaching of birds and animals are a threat to the development of tourism. This is the right time to initiate a long-term plan to develop Bangladesh as an internationally competitive tourist destination supported by mid-term plan to enhance tourism in the region and short-term plan to develop new tourism destinations, products and attractions. And this is time to adopt measures for tourism development through enacting strict tourism law.
To denote tourism as the world's largest industry, there is some statistics for those who like facts and figures against the belief of real scenario. A according to the World Tourism Council, last year tourism generated revenue over US$6 trillion. It provided around the world 221 million jobs, with an expectation that by 2015 it will be providing some 269 million jobs. Between 2006 and 2015, tourism's growth rate is expected to average 4.6 percent per year. Law for tourism industry in Bangladesh would definitely result in a great success for controlling deforestation and conserving environment. The cardinal objectives of tourism law may be:
a) To drive economic and social development in the country, while respecting its forest, fauna, flora, mineral, archaeological and heritage, sites, which should be preserved and passed on to future generations;
b) To preserve historical and cultural values and promote national pride;
c) To contribute to the harmonious and balanced development of the country;
d) To contribute to job creation, economic growth and relief from poverty;
e) To stimulate the domestic private sector to participate in the promotion and development of tourism resources;
f) To establish mechanisms for inter-institutional coordination and participation;
g) To promote the conservation of biodiversity and marine and land ecosystems;
h) To improve the standard of living of local communities, encouraging their active participation in the tourism sector;
i) To encourage measures for the safety and tranquillity of tourists, consumers and suppliers of tourism services;
j) To ensure equal rights and opportunities for all those subject to this law.
Tourism Law is eclectic and can be divided into two broad parts: first, the general laws which apply to this industry often in unexpected ways because of its peculiar characteristics, eg damages for disappointment. Second, the industry specific laws from the ancient common innkeepers and carriers doctrines to the labyrinth of local, state, federal and international regulations which now govern this industry.
Travel, by definition, involves cross border social, cultural and commercial transactions, which arguably raise more regulatory challenges for this industry than perhaps, any other. To establish “ Bangladesh as a land of tourism" beside “Land of birds and rivers”, the enactment of tourism law is urgent for action.
Tourism in Bangladesh has strengths to play a significant role in expanding domestic demand, increasing earnings in foreign currencies, eliminating poverty and providing jobs. The existing rules and regulations on tourism service cannot meet the needs for the development for the tourism industry in the context of present era. So, the Tourism Law should be enacted as soon as possible in order to standardize the development of tourism industry. The law should define the status of tourism industry in the national economic and social development, and the government policy and measures on expanding the tourism industry. The law should decide on the system for the rational development and scientific utilization of tourism resources and environmental protection, and provide for the protection of tourists' rights and interests. There is an increasing recognition by industry, government and international agencies that effective laws and institutions are fundamental to achieving upshot.
The writer is programme officer, National Tourism Organisation