♦ Cox’s Bazar sees low number of tourists
♦ Holidaymakers avoid flood-hit Sylhet region
♦ But people flock to Kuakata beach this time
♦ Padma Bridge makes travel easier for the tourists
Reeling from the losses due to coronavirus pandemic, Bangladesh’s tourism industry expected a major uplift during the Eid-ul-Azha vacation.
Short Eid vacation, bitter experience during the past visits and opening of international destinations as the pandemic subsides have been blamed for the situation.
The country’s major tourism spot sea beach town Cox’s Bazar witnessed a low number of holidaymakers, which, the people concerned said, is due to bad services during the past visits.
Another major spot Sylhet also lost tourists this year as floods devastated the region recently. The people concerned said the tourists probably decided not to visit the region just after such a huge flood.
Lawachara National Park bit officer Anishuzzaman said only 429 tourists entered the Lawachara forest on the day of Eid this year. Most of them were locals. But during the last Eid, at least 4-5 thousand tourists travelled daily.
Owner of Sreemangal Greenleaf Rest House, SK Das Sumon said recent floods in Sylhet and Sunamganj might have discouraged Eid vacationers exploring tourist zones of Sylhet.
“Monsoon season is the best time to enjoy the greenery of Sylhet but this year in the midst of such adverse conditions, some hotels and rest houses including Global Village, Dawal, Tanvir, Hillview Rest House have already been closed amid scarcity of tourists,” he added.
The last two years may have been a write-off period for Cox’s Bazar, the country’s most popular tourist destination, due to coronavirus pandemic.
Long holidays during Eid-ul-Fitr changed the situation with a huge number of tourists in the beach city.
But many of the holidaymakers then alleged that they had to pay extra money for hotel accommodations but were served low-quality food.
“Presence of tourist on this Eid has left us extremely disappointed. We used to struggle to serve millions of tourists during every Eid but now we are crying for holidaymakers,” said Riyadh Iftekhar, organising secretary of the Cox’s Bazar Hotel-Motel Guest House Officers’ Association and GM of the White Orchid Hotel.
Cox’s Bazar Hotel Guest House Owners’ Association President Abul Kashem Sikder said they offered some 50-60 per cent discount on hotel room bookings but yet couldn’t attract enough tourists.
“Economic crisis following floods in 20 northern districts, upcoming SSC examinations, inflation and increasing price of cows have made the middle class tourists bound to cut their vacation budget. Besides, opening of international holiday destinations have taken our tourists abroad,” he said.
Kuakata sea beach, the only beach of the world where travellers can enjoy both sunrise and sunset from same sea beach, however, has been going through a completely different experience.
Inauguration of Padma Bridge has attracted a huge number of tourists to explore the unique sea beach.
On Tuesday, on the third day of Eid-ul-Azha, thousands of tourists gathered at different spots of Kuakata.
Tourists flocked to Jhaubagan, Kuakata’s Kua, Lemburban, estuary of rivers, Gangamati Lake, Lal Kakra Char, Misripara Buddhist Monastery, Sri Mangal Buddhist Monastery, Shuntki Palli and Rakhine Market.
Many people were seen enjoying their day swimming in the sea and making merry with their loved ones while some of them were seen sitting on beach chairs, enjoying the sea and nature.
Habibul Islam, a tourist from Dhaka, said, “Once upon a time, tourists had to cross some 12 to 14 ferries to reach Kuakata from Dhaka which took huge amount of time but now it takes only 5 to 6 hours. This time I have reached Kuakata through the Padma Bridge.”
According to Kuakata Hotel-Motel Owners’ Association General Secretary Motaleb Sharif there are 74 hotels and motels affiliated to the Kuakata Association. Besides, there are 56 more hotels and motels. Of them, 15 are first class hotels.
“Some 15,000 holidaymakers would be able to stay in these hotels. Most of the rooms of these hotels and motels have been booked till next week,” he said.
Besides, several other tourist destinations like Rangamati and Bandarban and different amusement parks on the outskirts of Dhaka, Chattogram and other cities have received huge numbers of holidaymakers.