Inspired after a disappointing trip to Cox’s Bazar, cousins Ishnad Chowdhury and Tadib Muqtada decided to introduce an adventurous new water sport to Bangladesh’s growing tourist destination: parasailing.
“As beautiful as the place was, we found that there was absolutely nothing to do,” Tadib said in an interview with the Dhaka Tribune.
Cox’s Bazar, despite its natural advantages as the world’s longest natural sand beach and its surrounding lush greenery, is still developing as a beach resort area.
It did not take long for these two enterprising young men to figure out a solution. They took a second trip to Panowa (the local name for the seaside town) and scoped out the possibility of offering parasailing and other beach activities.
In September 2012, they decided to launch Fun Fest.
Within a month, they convinced the Cox’s Bazar Beach Management Committee that this would be beneficial for tourism,and by November that year, they bought the necessary equipment and started training the workforce. They officially went into operation a month later.
“We faced many constraints from people, but my only concerns were the wind, water and waves. Thisis what makes parasailing either possible or impossible.”
Fun Fest is located in Himchari Beach, not far from the main beach. They offer regular parasailing, where the adventurer wears a parachute to catch the wind and fly up like a kite while being towed by a boat. There is also“super fun” parasailing, a longer, more thrilling ride that makes one drop into the middle of the sea until the feet touch water. Additionally, visitors to Fun Fest have the opportunity to do other activities such as land sailing, zorbing and banana boating.
“Safety is our #1 priority,” the Fun Fest website reads. “Parasailing is safe because we make it safe.”
“There are only a few things that could go wrong. Worst cases: either you fall into the sea [while] wearing lifejackets; or you fall on the ground, which is soft sand.”
Ishnad said: “We acquired all our equipment from different parts of the world which specialise in their manufacture. For example, our boats and engines are from Japan because they are the best suppliers of these.
“We train our staff according to international standards. One of our trainers is the only person in town who has had eight years of experience in parasailing in different countries, including Malaysia. “
The dynamic duo behind Fun Fest is just getting started.
“The entertainment sector here is in its infancy.” Tadib said. “It needs a big push to start off. The government has been very cooperative with us so far.”
Tadib left his job in Switzerland in search of interesting ventures in Bangladesh. Ishnad, who was educated abroad and has a degree in finance, also has big dreams for the local entertainment industry.
He and his business partner have opened Fun Fest Urban Activities, a recreation zone in the capital’s Jamuna Future Park. They share a common vision, which is to introduce new sorts of entertainment to Bangladeshis, more than just eating out.
“However, entertainment and tourism are particularly vulnerable to the recent political unrest.” Tadib remarked. “When the roads are not safe enough for people to go to work, you cannot expect people to go out for leisure. Sadly this [situation] is worse in Cox’s Bazar, the main tourist hub, where violence reaches its peak during hartals and blockades.”
Ishnad said: “The perks of being in this industry are not just monetary. The ability to bring smiles to the faces of other people is priceless. And that’s one of the things that keeps us going.”