Country’s 1578 tourist spots at dire straits
Around 4 million workers have now become unemployed
Golam Mostafa Jibon: Around 4 million workers and employees involved in various activities at around 1578 small and big tourist spots across the country have now become unemployed due to frequent lockdowns centering the corona epidemic.
In the same time, a standstill situation has been created in the trade of hotels, motels and shops located at different tourist spots.
Due to the closure of these institutions in the first four months of the last year, the sector incurred a loss at about Tk 15 billion. At present, a new team has started working to assess the proportion of damage, said an official of the Tourism Board.
Impact of COVID-19
Ibrahim Khalil, Superintendent of police for the media wing of the tourist police headquarters said, “There are 1578 small and big tourist spots across the country. Among the tourist spots, tourist police are providing security at 104 top tourist spots of the country including Cox’s Bazar beach, Kuakata, Chattogram Hill Tracts, Sylhet, Moulvibazar and Sundarbans. In these spots, the tourist police are carrying out security duties in compliance with the hygiene rules.
Meanwhile, various species of plants have grown in the secluded environment in the closed tourist spots. Thousands of red crabs are now seen roaming freely in flocks on the Cox’s Bazar sea beach. In the tourist spot of Jaflong, trees have grown in the rocks and sand, while flowers of various species have blossomed. Many tourism businessmen, tourist police and the tourism board officials revealed those, while narrating about the plight of the tourism related traders. Fazlul Quader, Owner of Hotel Sea Point in Kolatali area of Cox’s Bazar said, they have three residential hotels in Cox’s Bazar. There are no enough tourists in any hotel due to corona pandemic. The three hotels have about 200 workers. Due to the pandemic, on an average financial loss of each hotel is around Tk 12 to Tk 15 lakh per month. Thus, the loss in three hotels is at least Tk 45 lakh per month.
“I do not understand how to overcome this loss. Like me, more than 400 hotels and motels in the entire Cox’s Bazar are incurring huge losses every month,” he said adding that the loss to the tourism sector in the Cox’s Bazar area alone would be more than Tk 1,000 crore. The amount of damage is increasing day by day. However, markets and shops in the main city have been opened in compliance with the hygiene rules.
But tourism business is declining due to lack of tourists. Now, if the government does not open hotel-motel zones in compliance with the health regulations, many will no longer have the capital to run these hotels. Everyone has to sit on the road.
Abdur Rahman, a wholesale dry fish seller in Cox’s Bazar said, he was carrying his livelihood well by selling dry fish. Dry fish worth at least Tk 1.5 lakh were sold every day. But now, no tourists are coming in the area due to corona pandemic. So now the profit is far from the loss. Other dry fish traders like him are now having a hard time.
Zakir Hossain, Secretary of the Oyster Traders Association in Cox’s Bazar said that, there were more than 300 shops including oyster shops on the beach in Cox’s Bazar. About 1500 workers and employees of the shops used to run their families. But now, there are no sufficient tourists. As most of the shops remain closed, all the products including oysters left in the shops are getting ruined. Shopkeepers are facing critical time.
According to the Tourism Board, about 4 million workers of different tourist spots including Cox’s Bazar beach, Sertmatin, Chattogram Hill Tracts and Kuakata are now unemployed due to the corona pandemic. Together with their families, this number will be around 1.5 crore. They are in extreme financial crisis.
Meanwhile, tourist police have tightened security at tourist spots across the country. Tourist police are also distributing leaflets and masks and carrying campaign through loud speakers to raise public awareness in the tourist area.
Tourist Police DIG Morshedul Anwar Khan said that, “The tourist police are providing security to the tourist spots in compliance with the hygiene rules. The tourist police are continuing its efforts to make the tourist spots world class in terms of security.”
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