POST TIME: 3 August, 2020 11:27:10 AM
Government aims to revive pandemic-hit tourism
UNB, Chattogram

Government aims to revive pandemic-hit tourism

File Photo

Bangladesh is planning to restart tourism in line with the health and safety protocols after the Covid-19 pandemic laid waste to the tourism industry, inflicting major financial loss.

A Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) prepared in this regard is awaiting government approval. Meanwhile, the Cox's Bazar district administration is planning to reopen tourist spots with reduced capacity.

However, there remains a sense of skepticism about whether the panic-stricken people will visit the spots at all amid the crisis. Tour operators have said financial assistance is the first thing that is required to revive the ailing sector.

Two major tourist destinations in Bangladesh - the Cox's Bazar sea beach and the St Martin’s Island - have been shut for months due to the pandemic.

As a result, hundreds of hotels, motels, more than 2,000 food shops, markets, as well as thousands of tourism-dependent businesses were shuttered. More than 150,000 people, including about 40,000 officers and employees and over 150 tour operators, have become unemployed.

Cox's Bazar was left without tourists since the start of the lockdown on Mar 26, Abul Kalam Shikder, general secretary of Cox's Bazar Hotel-Motel and Guest House Owners' Association, said. The situation is still the same, he said.

“About 80 percent of the total earnings from the country’s tourism sector comes from Cox's Bazar. Although there is no proper account, it can be said from our various studies and surveys that the annual turnover from tourism in Cox's Bazar is about Tk 100 billion.”

The Bangladesh International Hotel Association has claimed its hotels have suffered losses totaling an estimated Tk 25 billion so far due to the pandemic.

“There are no tourists in Cox’s Bazar. The number of guests in most hotels has dropped significantly. Many hotels have shut down,” Mohsin Haque Himel, secretary of the association, said.

However, discussions were underway with the district's deputy commissioner to revive the tourism sector after Eid, he said.

A committee meeting will be held after Eid with the reopening of a handful of tourist spots being mooted, according to Cox's Bazar DC Kamal Hossain.