According to the UNWTO, tourism is an industry that can create a multiplied value chain and multi-tier workforce at each stage of its service chain. Tourism is a labour intensive industry that employs a large number of people mostly young-folk and provides a wide range of jobs from the unskilled to highly professional. To tap the full benefit of the tourism industry, Bangladesh, in an effort, is also focusing on the creation of skilled manpower for its tourism industry. The tourism industry of Bangladesh is now an effective comrade of the country's journey on the development highway. According to the WTTC, at present, 1.18 million people directly are directly and a total of 2.43 million people are somehow involved in the tourism industry of Bangladesh. Currently, the direct contribution of tourism to the GDP of Bangladesh is 2.2 per cent. By 2028, Bangladesh tourism industry will contribute to the job market of Bangladesh significantly by creating a total of about 3.24 million jobs.
The Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation as a national tourism administrative body with its full mandate has been demonstrating an unflagging diligent to develop tourism industry of Bangladesh since 1972 and producing skilled human resource in tourism since 1974. The BPC's flagship training institute - National Hotel and Tourism Training Institute (NHTTI) has so far demonstrated a commendable effort by producing 40 thousand skilled forces for the tourism industry of Bangladesh. All of those who are trained by the institute are working at home and abroad with much reputation. The BPC is very much proud to say that none of the skilled manpower is unemployed. The more skilled manpower NHTTI can produce the more jobs they can avail at home and abroad because of their effective skills.For developing skilled manpower and provide them with jobs, BPC is very keen to work with the National Skills Development Council (NSDC). BPC has a plan to develop community-based tourism by providing training to thousands of local youth across the country. In fact, for creating a pool of skilled human resources it requires investment for creating young enterprises in tour-operation companies, travel agencies, fast-food shops, spa centres, curry-shops etc. These young enterprisers may be provided with long-term loans at low-interest rates. The BPC can also organise seminars, meetings, symposiums, youth carnivals etc in this regard. We are very much optimistic that the tourism industry of Bangladesh with its skilled force can bring about a positive change in the economy of Bangladesh by 2030.
The 7th Five Year Plan of the Bangladesh government aims at creating 13.2 million jobs and raise the GDP growth to 8 per cent by 2020. The chapter 13 of the 7th 5-year Perspective Plan emphasises creating productive employment opportunities through transforming youth into human resources. To achieve this goal, the initiative should be taken to link training with the jobs market and to strengthen the institutional capacity and infrastructure. Here, the tourism industry can contribute a lot to achieve the target by 2020. In the context of this plan, BPC aims at providing training to as many as 10 thousand youths. During the last 6th Five Year Plan, BPC provided training to 7 thousand people who are already in the job market.
The government of Bangladesh has already set targets to establish 100 economic zones and create10 millions of employment. Here, BPC can contribute by providing training and assistance in finding jobs for at least 0.5 million youths. The BPC has already chalked out a plan to create a human resource in the tourism sector in line with the 7th Five Year Plan and SDGs.
Currently, the young generation of Bangladesh both male and female is very much interested to work in the hospitality sector. They are now proud of posting pictures wearing the Chef Hat on Facebook, earlier what they thought it to be a prestige matter. The number of women involved in the hospitality sector of Bangladesh is also increasing. The youths are now robustly willing to be tour guides at a heritage site or tourist attraction. They themselves build home-stay in rural areas. All these are the results of a continuous effort by the BPC. This organisation is very much on the track to reach the young people through social organisations like youth clubs and non-profit organisations (NPO).However, young people need to be connected with the e-tourism facility like by creating Google tourist guides, e-itinerary etc. The BPC is ready to provide this kind of training to the young people. This requires cooperation from other departments but the BPC is to be the lead organisation with its institutional experience of 45 years. Apart from these, the organisation has a pool of skilled manpower to contribute to any kind of training as well as tourism development in Bangladesh.
The BPC targets the youth community to transform them into skilled manpower. As Bangladesh tourism is now at the take-off stage, it can take advantages of the demographic dividends of having the majority of the population young in the age in the next couple of decades. Young people with their noble ideas can augment tourism to every corner of the country, and thus help benefit cascade it down to the remote rural economy. Young people need to be engaged in creating a proper environment. They need to be oriented with the tourism industry and place them properly to connect all the segments of Bangladesh tourism industry.
The youth groups graduated from the university can apply innovative techniques with a minimum budget out of their youthful spirit. Korea, China and Singapore and many other countries reaped benefits out of their demographic dividends for the economic growth. Bangladesh is also trying to follow them. According to BBS, currently, working-age population in Bangladesh is 106.1 m. The actual labour force is 62.1 m; 59.5 m employed in public and private sectors, 2.6m is still unemployed. These unemployed young people can be engaged in tourism by taking proper training in different disciplines from the National Hotel and Tourism Training Institute (NHTTI). These skilled young people can bring about a positive change in the country's tourism industry by 2021. Bangladesh graduates from LDC to a developing country by 2021, the youth engagement in tourism can be an effective tool for its sustainable economy.
The writer is Manager, Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation.