#Voices of Travel: Stay home today to be able to travel tomorrow, says Faisal Razu from Bangladesh

In this ongoing series, we explore how humans of travel are mitigating the ongoing COVID19 outbreak. Faisal Razu, CEO, Piano Island Tours & Travel shares a very humane take on the current pandemic.

“For the survival of the Tourism Industry, everyone needs to stand together.”

I represent Piano Island Tours & Travel. We’re an Outbound & Inbound Tour Operator, we organise tours out of  our country and arrange tours for foreign guests all over Bangladesh.

For this season, we were taking a lot of preparation to focus on inbound tourism. We  came up with several tour packages and we offered varied options to our partners and clients. We received a lot of queries and booking confirmations as well. But when COVID19 affected the world, it badly affected the tourism industry as well.

I first heard of heard COVID19 towards the end of January. At that time, I was busy attending BLTM & OTM as a Hosted Buyer from Bangladesh. I was very apprehensive of what will happen to future travel even at that time. I shared my concerns with our Team Leader Taufiq Rahman and took the decision of keeping a close eye on the situation worldwide, following updates and staying connected with our partners at all times. I spoke to my partners from Italy & UK, expressed my concern and inquired about the future course of action. It was not until I spoke to my partners from Thailand that I realised the situation may be more serious than we thought. She also advised me to take updates from our China Partner. It was already the middle of February and we were taking group booking for April and May.

March 17 onwards, we totally stopped our official work and tour activities. In our tourism  industry,  everyone is having a very tough time. There are no queries, no bookings whether it is inbound or outbound.

The biggest challenge is most of our tour operators survives with the help of employees. Managing human resources at the moment is our biggest and most crucial challenge.

No one knows when the tourism industry will get back to life, even when it does we will face new challenges. Hike in airlines ticket price is one of the biggest concerns for Domestic, Inbound and Outbound travel, then we have Visa limitations, insurance claims, medical fitness certificates, etc.

As A CEO of the company, I have responsibilities and I will try to do my best.  Currently, I am advising my office staff to “stay safe, stay home. We are also maintaining regular communication with our partners and sometimes with our clients as well.

Our Tourism Industry needs the attention of the Government. Now is the time to move forward, so each day I try to enrol for some online course, learn something new and spend time with my family.

Our first and only priority right now is to “Stay safe, stay home” and strictly follow the Government’s instructions.

We are also trying to learn about new destinations, focussing on Iran, Tanzania and South Africa on the whole as our new  Outbound destinations. My experience and discussions with industry leaders both reveal that it will take at least a year for the outbound tourism industry to recover. We need to focus on Domestic Tourism immediately after COVID19 gets over.

I am positive that we shall overcome this phase too. Our motto is that we #StandTogether with our staff, our suppliers and our partners.

Please stay safe, stay home; follow the government’s instructions. Today’s safety will help tomorrow’s travel plans. Do not forget your employees, give them hope. Soon, we will be back with our hospitality.

Please keep Bangladesh in your good books.