Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation
Akhtaruz Zaman Khan Kabir
Tra - This year the slogan of the World Tourism Day is “Tourism and the Digital Transformation”. Though Bangladesh has been digitalized in different spheres, how much improvement, do you think has been actually made? What is the overall plan of the BPC or the government regarding this sector?
AZK - Tourism is absolutely a service-oriented industry. The service is a bit human associated rather than electronic or digitalized means. However, with the present trend of digital advancement, tourism industry of Bangladesh is moving ahead by applying this technology. Standing at the threshold of 4th industrial revolution we are still in the transition of upgrading our tourism services from the stage of 3rd industrial revolution. For instance, we are yet to fully use cyber physical systems or high speed internet connectivity to the development of Bangladesh tourism industry. Our industries are still being operated by human, not by the robots. Thus we are not in the fear of increasing jobless people like developed world. We are successfully automating our systems. Most people are connected to mobile phone technology.
Bangladesh has become the leader in e-banking by introducing transferring money by mobile banking. BPC already automated its own system and online booking and reservation. Our sales operation of the outlets in the Airports has become 100% automated and hotels & motels across the country can be booked online. BPC is closely working with a2i of Prime Minister's Office to digitize all its operations. We are also installing tourist-friendly payment system through introducing mobile banking. Now anyone can book our services like accommodation, food etc. without much effort. Even people can directly connect BPC managers and book its hotels in the remote areas from home. BPC and a2i will jointly go for executing a series of activities to make tourism services more accessible through digital technologies
Tra - As per the regulation of the UNWTO, every year a country is selected to celebrate the World Tourism Day in an official manner. For instance, this year Budapest, the capital of Hungary has been selected for this event. Has Bangladesh taken any step to achieve the honour to organize this event in recent future? If we have, what are these?
AZK - We are also trying our level best to become the host country of a world tourism day. In this regard, we have to undertake much ground-work. We are working to become the chosen destination by the top spending nations for tourism. We will apply to UNWTO to become the host while we will feel ready for the endeavor. BPC will place its plan to the government for the finance to arrange series of tourism showcasing along with all stakeholders of tourism in the top tourist countries. BPC is also working with ICT Ministry to create a unique online platform for the entire tourism industry of Bangladesh.
Tra - UNWTO has been organizing a tourism startup competition from last year. Does BPC or any other government initiative plan to encourage or patron Bangladeshi tourism startups to get into the international competition?
AZK - Startup competition is being organized by UNWTO for the first time in 2018. We always encourage stakeholders or freelancers to take part in such innovative competitions. These competition were to be primarily dealt by Bangladesh Tourism Board. Hopefully from the next startup competition we will officially encourage it.
Tra - How BPC is going through digital transformation in its own tourism promotion activities?
AZK - BPC has opened its official Facebook fan page a few years back. BPC's assigned officers are dedicatedly working on the promotion of its own activities, facilities and the tourism of Bangladesh as well. Every officer and staff of BPC has a facebook ID. Hundreds of BPC people are posting something related to tourism on their own profiles. Besides that, there are hundreds of tourism groups and pages, YouTube videos created by BPC staffs. Even, BPC has opened a Face book page in the name of Chairman so that tourists can directly communicate or lodge complaints regarding our services. BPC runs National Hotel and Tourism Training Institute (NHTTI) in Mohakhali, which is promoting tourism in a big deal with its students and trainers on the social networking platforms. They are promoting Culinary Tourism of Bangladesh through social media. BPC is on the top 5 among all the government organizations, who are using online platforms of e-filing system.