While asked, president of Bangladesh Tour Operator Association (TOAB) MD Rafeuzzaman said to the Prothom Alo, 60 per cent of facilities of tourism sector is invisible and the remaining of the 40 per cent is visible like hotel, motel, restaurant, roads, transport facilities, amusement etc. If tourists do not get enough facilities in any beautiful spot, they will not stay for long. He added, the tourism sector of the country is improving gradually. To utilise the potential of this sector quickly the government staff must be tourism friendly.
At least three million people visit the longest beach of the world every year. Average cost of a tourist for two nights and a three-day stay is around TK 10,000 including hotel cost and food. In that calculation three million tourists spend over Tk 3 billion.
There are five hundred restaurants at Cox’s Bazar for the tourists. Three years ago, a meal including fish or meat would cost around Tk 200. Now that has increased to Tk 00 to 320. On the other hand the fare of AC bus from Cox’s Bazar to Dhaka has increased from Tk 100 to 400. Now, bus fare for one person in AC bus is from Tk 1000 to 2500.
Rashedul Islam, general secretary of Cox’s Bazar Restaurant Owners’ Association said the price of fish, meat and other materials has increased. Moreover, there is no gas line in Cox’s Bazar. The cooking must be done by LPG gas and as a result the price increases. Earlier, the cost would not reach Tk 500 even if someone consumed vegetables, vorta, and lentil along with fish or meat. Now the same cost rises by Tk 200 to 300.
On the other hand general secretary of Cox’s Bazar Hotel Guesthouse Owners’ Association Selim Newaz said, three years ago the price for a middle class hotel room was TK 800, now it is Tk 2000 to 2200. The fare of TK 3000 for an AC room has increased to 5000 to 7000. The fare of the star hotels has also increased by 10 to 15 per cent.
For several years Cox’s Bazar beach has been decaying. In July, due to the impact of several depressions in the Bay of Bengal, the tidal water level increased by 5 to 6 feet above the normal level and hit the coast. The two-kilometre beach of Laboni Point was broken into rubbles.
Again, even though there is an opportunity for tourists to go down to the long beach up to Teknaf, there is no government initiative to ensure safety including hiring enough divers. The streets of the city are also broken. There is not much entertainment for tourists after evening. Tourists are victims of robbery after evening but no strong action is being taken to stop it. Again, the tourists have to face various kinds of problems when they go to the beach area.
Mukim Khan, secretary of Kalatoli Marine Drive Hotel Resort Owners’ Association said to Prothom Alo, “As there are not enough security and facilities for the tourists visiting Cox’s Bazar, no one wants to stay more than two to three days."
Sylhet also lacks facilities
Tourism business has two types in Sylhet. One of them is religious tourism while the other is natural beauty centric. Tourists from home and abroad come here for both religious and travel reasons.
Popular tourist spots of Sylhet region are Ratargul, Bisanakandi, Mayabi Jharna and Jaflong of Gowainghat; Sada Pathar of Companyganj, Lovachara of Kanaighat, Hakaluki Haor of Fenchuganj and Lalakhal of Jointapur.
Tanguar Haor of Sunamganj, tea garden and Lawachara National Park of Moulvibazar and Satchhari reserved sanctuary of Habiganj is also visited by tourists.
More than one thousand resorts and many hotel-motels are built in these four districts. As many as 2.5 million tourists, personal, family and corporate, come to visit these places annually.
Businessmen say that the increase in the price of fuel has also had a negative impact on the country's tourism and trade. Transportation and food costs have increased from 15 to 20 per cent. As a result, the number of tourists in Sylhet has decreased by half. Those who are coming again are not getting enough facilities.
The road system is better than ever to travel to the places of interest. But most of the tourist places do not have good quality toilets for women and children. Good restaurants are not to be found in most of the sightseeing spots. Security is also an issue. Incidents of tourists being assaulted are also happening.
When asked, acting president of Sylhet Chamber, Falah Uddin Ali Ahmad said, Sylhet has the potential of tourism industry, but there are not enough facilities. The river of Sada Pathar and Bisanakandi needs to be excavated. Again the road from Sylhet city to Bisanakandi is narrow. The environment of Jaflong is dirty.
The sand layer in Lalakhal is obstructing the movement of tourist boats. For a long time, the businessmen of the tourism industry demanded to take measures to solve these problems, but there is no improvement. Tourists are turning away from Sylhet.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) conducted a survey last year about “tourism satellite account”. According to the information of that survey, contribution of tourism to country’s GDP is 3.2 per cent, in other words TK 800 to 900 million.