Four months of the year, December to March, are considered the prime time for tourism in Bangladesh. Businessmen engaged in this sector usually earn huge profits that help keep their businesses afloat all year round.
But this season they are seeing the nadir of their business profits because of the recent political unrest, especially the continuous spell of hartals and blockades. Many businessmen are paying salary to their staff out of their capital funds.
Misi Construction has leased Gazipur National Park from the forest department this year at Tk73 lakh.
Masudul Haq of Misi Construction said there are more than 50 picnic spots in Gazipur. “Our construction company used to earn Tk10 lakh to Tk15 lakh during December to March. That amount is earned just from the entrance fee of tourists and vehicles.”
He said there were 36 staffers working for the company, and that the company needed Tk2.16 lakh every month to pay their salaries.
Since tourists are not coming to the park – fearing subversive activities such as arson attack, vandalism and bomb blasts – the company has to pay salaries and other maintenance costs of the park from its own funds.
“We have to pay the lease cost to the government every year, whether we earn a profit or not,” he added.
Nurul Islam, manager of Sea Gull picnic spot located in Singardighi area of Sripur upazila of the district, said during peak season they usually did not have enough space to accommodate the huge rush of picnic clients, but this year was the opposite, as the picnic spot was almost vacant.
Abul Hossain, manager of the Khamar Bari picnic spot situated at Hotapara, said they had yet to get any bookings this month.
“We have to pay Tk1.5 lakh to 13 staff every month. But we could earn only Tk12,000 so far this year,” he added.
“I usually earn Tk3000 daily at peak time from which I can easily support my family during the rest of the year. Now I get Tk500 only. Hartals and blockades have snatched away everything of us”, said Billal Hossain, who runs a tea stall in front of the Khamar Bari picnic spot.
Nazrul Islam, proprietor of Nipun Decorator at Monipur Bazaar, said he had earned Tk2.25 lakh in the previous year.
“The turmoil political situation has become the biggest obstacle to our earnings”, he added.
Manager of Puspodam resort and picnic spot Biplob, said the spot had the capacity to provide space for two parties daily. The monthly income of the spot, during the prime season, was minimum of Tk15 lakh.
“This year, we have to pay the monthly remuneration of Tk1.80 lakh to our 30 staff from the funds of the owner,” he said.
“Hasina-Khaleda are responsible for marring our business. Will they meet our economic demands?” said Alam Hossain, an infuriated shopkeeper in front of Puspodam resort and picnic spot. He also said, the daily income of the picnic spot last season was Tk10,000, while now it is only Tk2,000.
President of Sreepur Tourism Khondaker Masud Rana said a group of tourists, comprising 40 people, had planned to travel hill tracts of Chittagong on December 19 last year – but have shifted to January 24 due to the political unrest.
Principal (acting) Nurunnubi Akhond of Muktijoddha Rahmat Ali University College, situated at Shripur, said the college authority had abandoned the plan to hold the annual excursion because of political unrest.