Rangamati Parjatan Complex was opened during the Eid holidays to tide over the losses incurred during its four-month closure due to coronavirus pandemic
Although the Rangamati Parjatan Complex was reopened on a limited scale for visitors during the Eid-ul-Azha holidays, all concerned with the tourism industry here were disheartened by a low tourist turnout.
Srijon Bikash Barua, manager of the complex, said the decision to open the complex on Monday, after a 137-day closure due to the coronavirus pandemic, had been taken following a discussion with the Rangamati Deputy Commissioner.
Rangamati DC AKM Mamunur Rashid said permission to reopen the complex was given on the strict condition that health guidelines and social distancing would be followed.
“The tourism complex was shut down on March 18 at the government directive, due to which the Rangamati Parjatan Corporation has incurred a loss of about Tk1.5 crore so far,” said Srijon.
Rangamati Parjatan Complex was reopened to tide over the losses as tourist complexes in other places, including in Cox's Bazar and Chittagong, had been reopened as well, added Srijon.
According to sources at the tourism complex, the government used to receive tax revenue of around Tk3.5 crore from the complex every year. But this year, the government received no more than Tk2.78 crore in tax revenue from the Rangamati Parjatan Complex.
With declining numbers of tourists owing to the pandemic, the people whose lives directly depended on this sector have suffered a lot. Being jobless and burdened with debts, many are living in dire conditions with their families.
Suniti Chakma, a vendor of various handmade products at the Rangamati Tourism Complex, said: “Visitors have not been coming to tourist spots in Rangamati for the past four months. We have been living in dire conditions ever since. We were hoping to do some business provided during Eid holidays but, alas, there were no visitors, no customers.
“During tourist seasons we used to sell goods worth up to Tk5,000-10,000 daily. But now there is no trade. Hopefully, business will improve in the future.”
Ramjan Ali, manager of Rangamati Tourist Boat Owners' Association, said: “Since Tuesday, we have been renting out boats to tourists on a limited scale and in compliance with the hygiene rules. However, there are not many tourists due to the pandemic. We have lost about Tk20-30 lakh in the last four months of closure,” he said.
Despite the current situation, though, all stakeholders of Rangamati tourism sector remain hopeful that in the coming days the popular hill district will once again begin to attract tourists to Sajek Valley, Hanging Bridge, Kaptai Lake, Polwell Park, Aranyak Peda Ting Ting and Subholong spring, which are the main tourist attractions in the district.