Businessmen of the area urged the authorities to restart the tourism industry, even if it is on a limited scale
Cox's Bazar’s tourism industry has been closed off for four and a half months due to the coronavirus pandemic, forcing some 30,000 people into unemployment.
Hotels, motels, and various tourist attractions are closed owing to the emergence of the deadly virus. Businessmen, officials, and employees working in the industry are now leading miserable lives.
Local businessmen said the Covid-19 pandemic has dealt a blow of around Tk1,000 crore to Cox’s Bazar’s tourism industry.
The loss will only increase further if the beach is not opened and the ban on hotels and motels is not lifted during the upcoming Eid-ul-Azha, they continued.
Businessmen of the area urged the authorities to restart the tourism industry, even if it is on a limited scale.
However, the local administration said it is not possible to lift the ban on tourism before Eid. If circumstances allow, it will be lifted after the Eid on a limited scale.
Cox's Bazar, the country's largest tourist destination, has seen over 470 hotels and motels, more than 2,000 eateries, Burmese markets, and 5,000 tourism-dependent businesses shut down over the past four months.
More than 150,000 people, including about 30,000 employees of hotels, motels, and restaurants, and more than 150 tour operators are now out of work.
Mokhim Khan, general secretary of Cox's Bazar Kalatali Marine Drive Road Residential Hotel-Motel Owners’ Association, said the businessmen of the area are drowning in bank loans, and the small businesses are facing extreme losses amid the pandemic.
Small businesses ruined, over 100,000 people out of work
Cox’s Bazar Bachao campaign’s General Secretary Advocate Ayasur Rahman said coronavirus has crippled the whole district’s economy.
Tourism is associated with Burmese markets, clam shops, restaurants, dry food shops, drink-cigarette sellers, and about half a dozen small businesses and various types of transportation, he said.
“There are over 100,000 people involved in these businesses. They are all now out of work,” Ayasur added.
They are unsure if they will have food on their tables for their next meal, he said.
Local businessman Md Kalim Ullah said: “Apart from the salaries and allowances of the hotel employees, the electricity bill and extra expenses are around Tk1 lakh.
“Due to the closure of the business, I’m now neck-deep in debts as I paid for all the expenses by borrowing money.”
Cox’s Bazar Deputy Commissioner Md Kamal Hossain said there is a possibility of reopening the businesses related to tourism after Eid-ul-Azha under certain conditions, but not before Eid.
“Only those establishments [businesses related to tourism including restaurants] with adequate coronavirus infection prevention measures, and strict hygiene compliance will be allowed to resume business,” he added.
Covid-19 cases on the decline in Cox’s Bazar
Meanwhile, the number of Covid-19 patients in Cox's Bazar has started decreasing day by day.
Cox's Bazar Civil Surgeon Dr Mahbubul Alam said the infection has been mostly brought under control due to strict lockdowns in the district.
As of Monday, the number of Covid-19 cases in Cox’s Bazar stood at 3,287, including 71 people from the Rohingya community.