Category Archives: Tourism, Travel, Hospitality and Leisure

Cox’s Bazar airport set for expansion

Cox’s Bazar airport set for expansion
Sohel Parvez and Sayeda Akhter

The government has moved to expand the runway of Cox’s Bazar airport, aiming to upgrade it to international standards and offer foreign holidaymakers a hassle-free trip to the world’s longest unbroken sea beach.

“We have taken steps to expand the runway at Cox’s Bazar airport and develop other facilities,” GM Quader, the civil aviation and tourism minister, told The Daily Star recently.

Airliners and tour operators welcomed the move but said the government should also develop other tourism-related infrastructure and recreation facilities to lure overseas tourists.

Officials of the ministry however said the government had planned to develop an exclusive tourism zone for foreign tourists, refurbish the golf course to international standards and establish a cricket stadium in the beach town.

In line with the move to upgrade the airport, its runway will be expanded from 6,775 feet to 9,000 feet long and the width from 125 feet to 200 feet. Various navigational instruments will be installed, with the total cost estimated at Tk 302 crore.

Shafique Alam Mehdi, secretary in charge of the civil aviation and tourism ministry, said they completed the primary preparations. The organogram for the project has also been approved.

“We will send the proposal to the planning ministry next week for approval.”

The expansion will enable wide-bodied aircraft, such as the Airbus 310, to land at the airport. It will also allow foreign tourists to come to Cox’s Bazar by chartering aircraft, officials said.

The project, as per the proposal, is expected to be completed by June 2012, if work begins this fiscal year.

“We want to declare the Cox’s Bazar airport as an international airport after the runway is expanded. Now we aim to begin work as soon as possible,” said Quader.

In the second phase of development, the terminal building and other necessary facilities will be established, he added.

The attempt to upgrade the airport comes as Bangladesh tries to boost its hospitality industry by promoting its natural wonders, such as the sea beach, the coral island of St Martin’s and the mangrove forest, the Sundarbans, to global tourists who are visiting Bangladesh at an increasing rate every year.

For the past several years, the inflow of foreign tourists to one of the low cost tourism destination of Bangladesh more than doubled — from two lakh in 2005 to 4.67 lakh in 2008 — according to the civil aviation and tourism ministry.

The majority comes to visit Cox’s Bazar, the Sundarbans and Sylhet. Operators said the developed airport would enable foreigners to fly direct to the beach town.

“The thought behind the expansion is positive. It will encourage airlines to open direct flights from abroad to the tourism spot. However, unless various other facilities for tourists are created, it may not be sustainable,” said Captain Tasbirul Ahmed Choudhury, chairman and managing director of three-fleet carrier United Airways Ltd, operating four flights a week from Cox’s Bazar.

He also stressed the need to create 24-hour landing and take-off facilities for aircraft and establish refuelling stations to enable carriers to plan convenient flights.

Foreign carriers operate from two airports — Dhaka and Chittagong — with the airport in Sylhet failing to attract foreign airliners because of an absence of refuelling facilities.

Taufiq Uddin Ahmed, president of Tour Operators’ Association of Bangladesh (TOAB), echoed Choudhury suggestions and said the government should take immediate measures to develop adequate infrastructure to attract tourist.

“Otherwise, extending the runway or turning it to an international airport will not make any difference,” he said. He also recommended branding Bangladesh properly as a holiday destination.

Resort town makes brisk business

Resort town makes brisk business
Cox’s Bazar hosts over 1 lakh Eid holidaymakers

Our Correspondent . Cox’s Bazar

More than one lakh tourists gathered in Cox’s Bazar during Eid holidays to cast off the boredom of routine life and spend time in close contact with the nature, boosting the business in the sea resort town.

All the 120 residential hotels and motels and 50 guesthouses were packed up with the tourists amid additional security measures taken by the district administration and the police took during the vacation beginning with the weekly holidays and including the vacation of Eid-ul-Fitr and Durga Puja from September 20 to 22.

Some of the victors reached Cox’s Bazar on September 20th and performed their Eid prayers there while some drove to the sea town to spend one day.

The Cox’s Bazar beach management committee arranged some events including horse-ride, nagardola, speedboats etc for the tourists.

Md Gias Uddin Ahmed, deputy commissioner, Cox’s Bazar, told New Age that the administration including police, tourists police, had taken special security measures for the tourists.

He also mentioned that the tourist spots of Cox’s Bazar, including Dolhazara safari park, historical Ramu Ram court, historical Adinat Mandir at Moheshkhali, Inani, Himchari, Teknaf, St Martins, Sonadia, were the main attractions for the tourists.

Mosharaf Hossen Dulal, president, Cox’s Bazar shell market traders’ association, said hundreds of tourists visited the shell market.

Website to promote Sundarbans launched

Website to promote Sundarbans launched
Staff Correspondent

Sundarban Supporters’ Committee (SSC) launched a website to promote the Sundarbans yesterday.

KCC Mayor Talukder Abdul Khaleque inaugurated the website at the Shahid Altaf Auditorium at Khulna City Corporation.

The KCC Mayor urged all to take advantage of internet to vote for Sundarbans to clinch its place among the seven new wonders of the world.

Convener of SSC Liakat Ali presided over the programme while lawmaker Nazrul Islam Manju, Vice Chancellor of Khulna University of Engineering and Technology Prof Md Nawsher Ali, Panel Mayor No 1 of KCC Azmol Ahmed Tapan, Editor of The Daily Tribune Begum Ferdousi Ali and Chief Executive of NGO Rupantar Swapan Guha also spoke.

SSC Member-Secretary Rafiqul Islam Khokon moderated the programme.

Nandan to build country’s largest resort at Tk1.20b near Dhaka

Nandan to build country’s largest resort at Tk1.20b near Dhaka

Sonia H Moni

Nandan group, a British-Bangladesh joint venture, has said it would build the country’s largest resort at a cost of TK1.20 billion near its amusement park, some 40 kilometres north-west of the capital.

The resort, which can accommodate 250 people at a time, will have 40 cottages and green hills on 20 acres of land, the group’s head of project development Major (Retd) Md Mahmud ur Rahman Sakeb told the FE.

“It will be the country’s largest resort and will look like a traditional Bangladeshi village with all its beauty and splendour. Visitors would get the same ambience that they find in the famed resorts of Bali in Indonesia,” Sakeb said.

“In addition to 40 cottages for couples and families, there will be a dormitory, world class restaurant, tennis court, mini golf course, swimming pool, party centre, administrative building and lush green garden,” he added.

Nandan, which also owns the country’s largest amusement park at Baroipara, Savar and has stakes in real estate, plans to start work on the resort early 2010 and complete by early 2012.

Sakeb said the company wants to tap into growing inland tourism in the country. More than two million people visit the beach town of Cox’s Bazar during Eid and four million to the hill district of Bandarban every year, he said.

“Our market is now ready for a top class resort like ours. There are now hundreds of thousands of people in Bangladesh who spend some time in their busy annual calendar in vacationing in resorts and top hotels,” he said.

“Higher middle class and higher-class local people and foreigners are our targeted clients,” he said, adding unlike the resorts in Bali and Thailand where alcohols and gambling flow freely, Nandon would not undermine the country’s culture and traditions.

“There will be no casino. But there will be dance programmes by our indigenous people and healthy entertainment arrangement. The visitors will also enjoy free access to our amusement park,” he said.

Sylhet region awaits luxury resort

Sylhet region awaits luxury resort

A five-star resort in Srimangal is now under construction at its 45-bigha site next to Lawachhara National Park in Moulvibazar. The resort plans to start its commercial operations by the end of 2010. Photo: STAR

A five-star resort in Srimangal is now under construction at its 45-bigha site next to Lawachhara National Park in Moulvibazar. The resort plans to start its commercial operations by the end of 2010. Photo: STAR

Kawsar Khan

A local company has endeavoured to build the country’s first five-star resort in Srimangal, primarily targeting expatriate Bangladeshis visiting Sylhet and its environs.

Grand Sultan Tea Resort and Golf sprawling over 45 bighas is located next to Lawachhara National Park in Moulvibazar.

The resort will have 167 rooms, including 20 suites and a presidential suite.

“We hope to begin commercial operations by the end of 2010,” Khawaja Tipu Sultan, chairman of Excursion and Resorts Bangladesh Ltd, the resort owning company, told The Daily Star.

Many expatriates — largely from second and third generations — visit home every year and they have the finances to afford luxury during their stay, but there are no such facilities that meet global standards, said Sultan.

He also expects the resort to attract foreign tourists who frequently visit the area and the Lawachhara forest for its scenic beauty and rich biodiversity.

In addition to supporting several types of flora, fauna, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals, the Lawachhara forest is a habitat for Hoolock Gibbons.

“Wildlife in the area attracts a good number of tourists around the year, but unfortunately, there is no world-class accommodation for them,” Sultan added.

“We will include all the amenities of a five-star hotel in the resort, including strong security and world-class service standards,” he said.

“The resort will be rated by globally renowned hotel rating agencies,” Sultan said.

The total investment required to build the resort is estimated to be between Tk 65 crore and Tk 100 crore.

There will be a golf course on the premises that will host golf tournaments, while the resort could also be used to hold wedding functions, company annual general meetings, business summits and office and family tours.

Sultan said the government could also arrange international summits such as Saarc at the resort.

He said investment in the tourism sector involved a huge “risk factor”.

“We are keen to develop the tourism sector and that’s why we are investing here.”

Exclusive tourist zone soon

Exclusive tourist zone soon

Unb, Dhaka

Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister GM Quader yesterday said the government has taken an initiative to build an exclusive tourist zone.

The government is working sincerely for the development of the country’s tourism sector, and to attract both domestic and foreign tourists, he said while addressing a meeting of the re-constituted Tourism Advisory Committee at the ministry.

The minister said that work is already underway to formulate new laws and guidelines on tourism and to identify the tourism spots.

Highlighting the importance of the Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest, he said the government would make necessary arrangements so that the tourists could enjoy the scenic beauty of the Sundarbans.

In this regard, Quader stressed formation of Tourist Police.

Home Secretary Abdus Sobhan Sikdar, Information Secretary Dr Kamal Abdul Naser Chowdhury, Cultural Affairs Secretary M Sharful Alam, Environment and Forests Secretary Dr Mihir Kanti Majumder, Civil Aviation and Tourism Secretary Hedayetullah Al Mamun and Parjaton Corporation Chairman M Hemayet Uddin Talukder also spoke in the meeting.

Swiss hotel brand eyes Bangladesh market

Swiss hotel brand eyes Bangladesh market
Staff Correspondent

The Golden Tulip Hospitality Group expressed its keen interest in bringing in the Golden Tulip brand to Bangladesh with the objective to become a major contributor to country’s hospitality, business and tourism sectors.

Duco E de Vries, business development director of MENA region of the group, said it at a press release on Friday.

‘Introduction of Tulip to Bangladesh will open opportunity to expand business and tourism in this country as well as the opportunities for new different hotel jobs,’ he said.

‘Tulip has a lot on offer. Our success will be a result of the perfect combination of exciting brands, a dedicated professional team, and target markets with great potential for growth,’ he added.

Golden Tulip, the hotel brand of Switzerland based worldwide hospitality company with more than 780 hotels and 75,000 rooms in more than 50 countries, was ranked 18th largest hotel chain around the world by Hotels Magazine in 2006.

As a multi-brand hospitality firm, the Golden Tulip Hospitality Group also offers services in categories with different standards like Tulip Inns, Tulip Residence, Golden Tulip, and Royal Tulip with luxurious and high standard living facilities.

In addition, Golden Tulip offers its services through its commercial alliance with TOP International, a German based hotel consortium.

Master plan soon to boost tourism

Master plan soon to boost tourism
BSS, Dhaka

Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister GM Qader yesterday said a master plan would be undertaken for boosting the tourism sector and making it attractive.

To this end, a time-befitting tourism policy is being formulated, he said while presiding over a meeting on tourism policy at his ministry here.

“There is immense potential for tourism in Bangladesh, and tourist spots will be developed by identifying those to attract local and foreign tourists,” the minister said.

Shafique Alam Mehdi, chairman of Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation, Sardar Abul Kalam, joint secretary of the ministry, and other high officials were present.

Cox’s Bazar swings back to second wonder

Cox’s Bazar swings back to second wonder
Star Business Report

The world’s longest unbroken beach Cox’s Bazar was yesterday promoted to the second position in the race for the new seven wonders of nature.

Earlier, Cox’s Bazar ranked third in “Group G” of a total of seven categories under the New7Wonders Foundation.

The overwhelming support of the citizens of the country, including expatriates, helped Cox’s Bazar and the Sundarbans hold on to the top, Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation said in a statement yesterday.

The Sundarbans ranked third in “Group E” for forests, natural parks and reserves, according to the website for the New7Wonders Foundation.

Bangladesh to build replica Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal bangladesh

Taj Mahal (Bangladesh) is a life size replica of the original Taj Mahal located 18 miles northeast of the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka. Unlike the original the building work took only 5 years and cost its wealthy owner USD 58 million. Ahsanullah Moni, a wealthy Bangladeshi film-maker, has told how he built a replica of the Taj Mahal so that the poor of his nation can realise their dream of seeing neighbouring India’s famed monument.

Bangladesh makes little money out of international tourism, with just 0.1 percent of visitors to the Asia-Pacific region stopping off there, according to the World Tourism Organisation.

Moni first visited the original Taj in 1980 and made the trip six more times as he followed his dream to replicate it.

He hired specialist architects, sending them to India to measure the dimensions of the real Taj Mahal, and brought six Indian technicians to his building site across the border.

Work finally began in 2003 and will be completed this month, when the new Taj throws open its doors to the public.

Moni imported marble and granite from Italy, diamonds from Belgium and used 160 kilogrammes (353 pounds) of bronze for the dome.