The picturesque district of Cox's Bazar, sitting in the backdrop of lush hills in the south-eastern part of Bangladesh, boasts everything — from the world’s longest sea beach to tropical weather – that makes it a holidaymaker’s paradise.
Local tourism businesses in the district have taken all preparation to ensure hassle-free vacation for people visiting the area in the Eid season.
A long Eid vacation and favourable weather means thousands of local tourists will throng the area to bask in the sun at sea beaches, explore the famed Saint Martin's Island, the rocky Inani beach, Ramu's Buddhist pagodas, Maheshkhali's Adinath temple, Dulahazra's Bangabandhu Safari Park, and the Himchhari waterfall, among others.
The local law enforcement agencies have stepped up security measures to ensure the tourists' safety. The Tourist Police, who have garnered praise for their activities, have launched a mobile application to allow people to contact them in case of emergency.
But the recent spate of militant attacks on minorities, secular writers, rights activists and foreigners have somewhat dented Bangladesh's image in the global arena. It has been two months since the country had its worst terror attack when terrorists killed 22 people, mostly foreigners, at an upmarket Dhaka cafe on July 1.
The recent attacks seem to have had little impact on foreign tourists.
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Tourists at the Kalatali beach[/caption]
Long Beach Hotel's head of operations Mohammed Tarek said 80% rooms in his hotel had already been booked. “We got huge response from foreign and local tourists alike.”
Businesses dependent on tourism have gone through colourful renovations to attract tourists.
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Beach lounge chairs have been revamped for the tourist rush[/caption]
Most of the hotel and motel owners have brought in new furniture while the restaurants have undergone makeovers. Old plastic lounge chairs rented out on the beaches have also been painted with different colours to make them appear more attractive.
Popular tourist spots were fully prepared to welcome the tourists, Kitkot Business Association President Mahbubur Rahman said.
“Every year, tourists usually come here to enjoy their Eid vacation but this time we got huge advance booking,” Vista Bay Resort Manager Kalim Ullah said. “It is a good sign. We have tried our best to attract more and more tourists.”
Tourism business suffered massive loss several years ago when political instability rocked the country.
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The Burmese Market in Cox's Bazar, a popular tourist destination[/caption]
Hotel Sea Gull's Assistant Manager Nurul Alam says he hopes to recover some of the losses this season.
With people expected to flock the area in thousands, the district's Tourist Police have taken all out measures to ensure their safety.
“Laboni, Sugandha, Kolatoli, Kabita Chattar, Shahin Chattar, Daria Nagar, Inani beach points will remain under strict surveillance,” Cox's Bazar Tourist Police Additional Superintendent Khandker Fazle Rabbi said.
Leaves of Tourist Police have been cancelled.
Fazle Rabbi said the district police would assist to ensure strict surveillance.
Cox's Bazar Development Authority Chairman Lt Col (retd) Forkan Ahmed said: “Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina instructed to decorate Cox's Bazar in new way to ensure development tourism industry here. I expect cooperation from everyone to implement her order.”
An increase in the number of tourists is good news for business and the country's economy that's heavily dependent on remittance. But the high number also means that Bangladesh will have to be prepared to tackle the impact tourists will have on the marine environment and make plans to clean the popular spots that will likely be littered with garbage.