Tour operators of Sundarbans said they are in serious trouble following the imposition of a ban on tourist boat operation in the area by Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA).
The decision of banning tourist vessels was announced through a circular signed by Khulna river port and transport department deputy director Abdur Razzak on Wednesday evening.
They said the decision was made without consulting with them. They fear financial losses due to the ban during the peak season of tourism. “No tourist destination has been declared closed yet. In some cases, the passengers have been instructed to abide by the health rules. But without discussing with us, the operation of tourist boats to Sundarbans has been stopped,” a tour operator said requesting anonymity.
Sundarbans Tourism’s owner Enamul Haque said that the seats of their vessels are usually booked in advance during the weekly holidays.
Those who were scheduled to go to Sundarbans on Thursday night reached Khulna from different places in time.
He said there was confusion among the tourist operators following the ban.
Nazmul Azam, general secretary of the Tourist Operators Association of Sundarbans, said, “All our vessels have been booked till the end of February. Most tour operators already received advance payment and spent for arranging tour. Now we don’t know what we should do in such a situation.”
“We asked them why the BIWTA has stopped vessel operation in Sundarbans while the government has not yet imposed a travel ban in any other place,” he said.
According to the BIWTA notification, the movement of tourist vessels and launches from Khulna to Sundarbans for travel, study tour, picnics and boating has been temporarily.
“As per the January 10 decision of the Cabinet Division, the ban was imposed on the instructions of the BIWTA head office,” said Abdur Razzak. The announcement came amid the rise in coronavirus infections. The ban will remain in place until further notice, said BITWA.