Tourism and related businesses in the district will face a loss of around Tk500 crore over the period from the last week of March till Eid-ul-Fitr, according to Tours Operator Owners Association of Cox’s Bazar
The government has prohibited any gathering of people in tourist spots, including the beach in Cox's Bazar. The announcement was made two weeks ago, and since then all businesses related to tourism have been suspended.
Furthermore, most fishermen are not going to sea fearing coronavirus infection. So the production of dry fish as well as the supply of raw fish to the fish market has decreased.
Under normal circumstances, the period leading to Pohela Boishakh (Bengali New Year) and Eid-ul-Fitr is the peak sale season for fashion houses. But now the shops are closed and businessmen are anxious about the future. The same thing is true for betel-leaf traders. Overall, all businessmen in the district are incurring a huge loss due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Riyad Iftekhar, organising secretary of the Hotel-Motel Officers' Association, said around 50 lakh local and foreign tourists visit Cox's Bazar annually. Every day, several hundred inter-city buses and 10-12 flights come to and from Cox's Bazar, he said.
"There are more than 400 hotels, motels and cottages, and several hundred restaurants in the region.
There are more than a hundred service providers in Cox's Bazar to make travel to the sea comfortable. Over 300 photographers work to capture the holiday spirit of the tourists. Besides, there are thousands of small traders who earn their livelihood by selling oyster and snail shells. However, tourism and related businesses have been suspended for the last 15 days, and people assume that this will continue till Eid-ul-Fitr. Daily transactions of Tk25-Tk30 crore are no longer taking place now, so in around two months till Eid-ul-Fitr, businesses will be deprived of around Tk2,000 crore of revenue," said Riyad.
Abul Kashem Sikdar, general secretary of the Cox's Bazar Guest House Owners' Association, said, "Though we cannot operate businesses now, we have to bear the maintenance cost. Each hotel owner has to face a loss of Tk10,000 per day. Thus, the owners of the hotels, motels and restaurants will have to incur losses of at least Tk50 crore in around two months till Eid-ul-Fitr. Moreover, there is interest on bank loans."
According to the Tours Operator Owners Association of Cox's Bazar, various tour-related service providers work in the district to make travel to different tourist spots easy for visitors. The organistaions have offices and employees. Many of them have to spend around Tk50,000 per month to pay office rent, salaries of staff and utility bills. Thus all sectors of the tourism business in the district will have to face a loss of around Tk500 crore over the period starting from the last week of March upto Eid-ul-Fitr.
Atikur Ullah, president of the Nazirartek Dry Fish Production Plants' Owners Association, said, "Even though this is the season of dry fish production, this has been hampered. The production of dry fish has reduced by 60-70 per cent because the number of sea-bound fishing vessels has decreased. However, we have a stock of 6,000 tonnes of dry fish of different varieties. Even though there is no demand in the market now, we cannot export the fish. If exports remain suspended for one more week, this industry has to face a loss of Tk100 crore."
SM Khalekuzzaman, fisheries officer of Cox's Bazar, said, "Fishermen are not going to sea to catch fish fearing coronavirus infection. So the production of dry fish has reduced by 40 per cent compared to that in the previous year. However, every storage house has dry fish in stock. But the raw fish market is facing a shortage due to the decreased supply of fish. It is not possible to calculate the extent of losses now. We can calculate it after the quarantine period is over."
Meanwhile, Aminul Islam Bokul, general secretary of the Bangladesh Shop Owners Association, Cox's Bazar unit, said, "Pohela Boishakh is almost here. Clothes and shoes worth around Tk100 crore were sold this time last year. But now all the shops are closed. The shop owners of the district will incur losses of at least Tk20-Tk25 crore this time. The losses will exceed several hundred crores of taka if this situation continues till Eid."
Abu Murshed Chowdhury, president of the Cox's Bazar Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said coronavirus has paralysed the global economy. Cox's Bazar is facing losses because the district's economy was based on tourism, he said. "We will try to find a way out when the situation returns to normal,' added Murshed.