Travel agencies to be fined, jailed for dealing visas, recruitment

Travel agents, however, are confused about whether the new provision only applies to recruitment visas or even others
- A Monitor Desk Report 23 Jul, 2020 | 725 Views|-+
Dhaka: The Cabinet cleared the draft of Bangladesh Travel Agency (Registration and Regulation) (Amendment) Bill, 2020 on July 20 keeping provision of maximum six-month imprisonment or BDT 5,00,000 fine or both in case of violation of the provision of not dealing visas or recruitment under the proposed law.

The announcement was made following the cabinet meeting held with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair. The PM joined the meeting through a videoconference from her official residence Ganabhaban, while other cabinet members joined from Bangladesh Secretariat.

In the bill, a provision has been kept that a travel agency can renew its licenses within the six months even after the expiry of the stipulated time paying penalty, can open branch offices at home and abroad, and hand over its ownership, said Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam.

“In some cases, many travel agencies work as recruiting agencies. If so, the travel agencies would be fined. If any travel agency wants to deal visa or recruitment. It would have to take separate licenses for these,” added Islam.

Therefore, the travel agencies from now on will only do ticketing, the Cabinet Secretary said.

However, The Bangladesh Monitor spoke with some of the travel agencies in the country and they expressed confusion about the new provision, stating, “whether it only applies to recruitment visas or even tourist, medical, student and other visas”.

If, under the new provision, travel agencies can no longer deal any kind of visas, not only recruitment, then it is a matter of great concern for both travellers and travel agencies.

“Dealing visas is a part of travel. Therefore, it falls under the services of a travel agency since globally travel agencies are considered “travel consultants”. The service also makes the necessary, yet sometimes complicated, travel procedures convenient for travellers,” said Abdus Salam Aref, former Secretary General of Association of Travel Agents of Bangladesh.

Hence, the new provision could be about recruitment visas only, he added, seeking further updates on the matter.

Taufiq Rahman, CEO of Journey Plus also expressed the same confusion when asked for a comment.

Thus, travel agents are waiting for further clarification on the matter, mentioned Md Rafeeuzzaman, President of Tour Operators Association of Bangladesh.

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