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Inflation, weather play spoilsport

Arifur Rahman Rabbi
19 Jun 2024 23:38:52 | Update: 19 Jun 2024 23:44:35
Inflation, weather play spoilsport
The Hanging Bridge is a landmark of Rangamati, attracting thousands of tourists every year — File Photo by Shamsul Haque Ripon

During the Eid-ul-Azha vacation, the country’s major tourist spots including Cox's Bazar, Sylhet and Kuakata did not see the expected number of visitors compared to other similar holidays.

Even though special discounts were offered, most of the rooms of the hotels, motels and resorts were left empty during the holidays, said the owners. They blamed the rising inflation, bad weather and flooding for the visitors’ reluctance to travel.

Talking to The Business Post, many said they had plans to visit tourist spots during the holidays but later decided to cancel due to various reasons, including bad weather with extreme heat or rain, low-income-high-expenditure situation and high costs of travelling, hotel rooms and food.

Mukim Khan, the general secretary of the Kolatoli-Marine Drive Hotel Resort Owners Association in Cox’s Bazar, said that about 3,00,000 tourists visited Cox's Bazar during the last Eid-ul-Fitr holidays, like every year. But the coastal town usually sees lower level of crowds during Eid-ul-Azha holidays and it has happened this time as well.

He said that hotels, guesthouses and resorts are offering 30-60 per cent discounts on room rent to attract tourists but there is no response. About 50 per cent of rooms are still vacant now.

Rising costs due to inflation, lack of money in hands and the weather not being good due to heat were the major reasons why the number of tourists was low during the holidays, he said.

Tourism sector people said that Cox's Bazar is always at the top of tourists' choice during such holidays and then they go for Rangamati, Sylhet, Sreemangal, Kuakata, Saint Martin’s Island, the Sundarbans, etc.

However, the sector is now suffering as tourism is now closed at Saint Martin’s due to the ongoing war situation in Myanmar. There are also travel restrictions on several areas of Chattogram’s hill districts. Tourism in the Sundarbans has been suspended as well since last month's fire incident.

Tourist spots in the Sylhet region also saw no tourists as continuous heavy rainfall over the past three days has worsened the flood situation in Sylhet for the second time in just 20 days. Nearly 7,00,000 people in the Sylhet metropolitan area and throughout the district are now stranded.

Sylhet experienced the first phase of flooding on May 27, affecting approximately 7,00,000 people across all upazilas. The water had not fully receded when heavy rainfall and hill torrents hit again on June 15, worsening the situation by Eid day (June 17).

There were fewer tourists in Kuakata also during the Eid holidays as many hotels and guest houses have been damaged due to the recent cyclone Remal and floods, Kuakata Hotel-Motel Owners Association Secretary General MA Motaleb Sharif told The Business Post.

“Besides, now people have less money. People plan to visit tourist spots if they have money. During this holiday, some people from neighbouring areas have come here to visit. Still, 60 per cent of rooms are still vacant,” he said.

Meanwhile, a different scenario was seen at the popular tourist spot Sajek Valley in Rangamati.

Suparna Deb Barman, the president of Cottage Malik Somitee of Sajek, told The Business Post that there are around 116 hotels and resorts in Sajek and they are 100 per cent full.

“Some 100 to 150 tourists are yet to find rooms. We are trying to manage places for them to stay. We have always said that tourists should book hotel rooms before coming here,” he said.