Arunima Das, a class six student of Holy Cross School, is very angry with her parents. She stopped talking to her father after the publication of PSC examination results. Das achieved A+ in the class five terminal examinations.
“My father had promised me to visit Fantasy Kingdom if I can secure A+. But, he broke the promise and I am very angry with him,” she quipped.
“It is a great pain for me as I have to bear the annoying speeches of my only daughter because of my failure to make her a cheerful visit to Fantasy Kingdom,” said Arunima’s father Sunil Das, who is a banker, expressing abhorrence to the political parties for creating deadlock situation across the country.
Like Arunima Das, a number of students, city dwellers and countrymen have failed to make their year-end holidays due to political programmes including hartals and blockades, which shattered the business of amusement parks across the country.
Sohel Mahmud, a businessman of Mirpur, told the Dhaka Tribune he had to change several times the schedule for visiting Foy’s Lake in Chittagong due to blockades. He was supposed to enjoy the thirty first night there along with his family, but had to cancel due to the political programmes and the government restriction on the New Year celebration.
People from different parts of the country, including Chittagong city dwellers, visit Foy’s Lake on the holidays, especially in the winter. But a sense of insecurity kept them away this season, said Bishwajit Ghos, assistant manager (marketing) of Foy’s Lake at Chittagong.
During blockades visitor presence came down to 100-150 people per day as compared to 1,500 to 2,000 of previous years, he added.
“We had taken preparation to give the lake a decorated look for the New Year, but the investment for renovation only increased the amount of our looses,” said Ghos.
“We, a group of 10 first year student of Dhaka International University, have planned to go on a three-day tour to Cox’s Bazaar on the first week of January, but had to put off the plan as BNP enforced hartal,” said Munim Chowdhury, a member of the group.
“It has now become difficult for us to run the park as visitors presence fell by around 90%,” said Enamul Hossain, assistant manager (sales) of Fantasy Kingdom.”We had to pay staffs though the income is at zero level.”
In the Fridays and holidays, generally 15,000 to 20,000 visitors come to enjoy their holidays, but due to political unrest, it came down to 400 to 500 per day, he added.
During December to January period of every year, the amusement park faces huge rush from corporate houses, schools and collages for picnic. But this year, they hosted no such groups as yet, said Enamul.
“Tourist spots are to enjoy. But no one could enjoy due to violence,” said Mizanur Rahman, general manager of Swapnopuri, an amusement park at Dinajpur. He said the political unrest hindered people from moving, affecting the amusement park business.
“We are not getting reservations for picnics by corporate or institutional clients as they are suffering from indecision due to political programmes being announced indiscriminately beyond prediction,” said Zubaid Al Hafiz, head of marketing at Nandan Park.
If the unrest continues, the whole sector will fall into deep crises as the business of the sector in the peak season is at stake, said Hafiz. “We have incurred a loss of over Tk1 crore in last two months.”
“Domestic tourism reached on the verge of collapse,” Taufiq Uddin Ahmed, president of Tour Operators Association of Bangladesh (TOAB), spoke of the state of the sector that already suffered a business loss of 90%. On the other hand, he said, inbound tourism came down to zero level as the operators have been forced to cancel scheduled visits by the foreign tourists.
As a result, the linkage business like hotel, restaurants, tourism vessel and vehicles are facing setback as they cannot bear the expenses, Ahmed said.