Bangladesh – Omicron sees tourism further into financial distress

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Location               : Bagerhat (Mongla, Chapdai Range & Karamjal, Sundarban) & Dhaka

Language             : Bengali

Voice                     : Natural

Duration              : 00:06:11

Source  : A24

Restrictions        : A24 clients

Dateline               : 25.01.2022

Storyline:

A country of over 1,600 natural tourist attractions and with the world longest natural beach, Bangladesh has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, as its tourism still suffers from its ramifications. Tourism, whose revenue contributed 4.4 percent to the country’s GDP and provides income to some 3 million, suffered a $3.1 billion in 2021, according to the latest World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) report. In a bid to save the sector, national efforts had invigorated domestic tourism, as more than 15 million Bengalis started touring the country, nevertheless, Hotel manager Azharul Islam said that the advent of the new Omicron strain has brought a halt to the initiative, as, for example, the hotel’s occupancy rate to drop from 90 percent to merely 15 – 20 percent. The COVID-19 pandemic has dealt a heavy blow to the sector as its contribution to the GDP decreased by 32 percent. Ziaul Haque Hawlader, who is an official responsible for tourism wellbeing, said that if the country closes, families that, directly or indirectly, depend on tourism will be bear the brunt of further lockdowns.

Shot list:

(SOUNDBITE) Mr. Azharul Islam, Manager, Pashur Hotel. Mongla, Bagerhat

”There was a huge loss in the hotel sector after COVID started in March 2020 in Bangladesh. We could not have recovered from this loss in spite the fact we tried a lot. After Omicron started, our occupancy has dropped down to 15% – 20% which was almost 80% – 90%.”

(SOUNDBITE) Khalil Farazi, Car Driver

“After Omicron came, right now we are in a very bad situation. No tourists are coming. We have not had any trip with tourists for the last 15-20 days. We are in very tough situation.”

(SOUNDBITE) Abul Hossain, Tourist Boat Businessman

“I am in this trade for 18 years. Our boatmen were leading a good life with their families as there were always a number of tourists here. But after Corona some sold their boats. I also had to sell a boat. My other boat is in a dry land and I am not able to make it operational due to shortage of money.”

(SOUNDBITE) Md Kalam, Owner, Doll Stall,

“Before Corona lots of people came here. Now people are not coming. We are helpless. Much less people. We cannot sell anything.”

(SOUNDBITE) Amirul Islam, Tourist,

“When Omicron started, everything now has gone back to a vacuum again. Travel lovers are deprived to get the mental relief they used to get by travelling.” 

(SOUNDBITE) Mr. Rafeuzzaman, President of Tour Operators Association of Bangladesh (TOAB) and Managing Director of Straight Way Tours & Travels, Dhaka

“The tourism industry is a business sector which gets affected first by any natural calamities, political unrest etc., but a recovery would eventually come. We are very concerned due to Omicron, as the government might go for another lockdown.”

(SOUNDBITE) Mr. Ziaul Haque Hawlader, Manager, Public Relations, Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation (Govt. authority responsible for tourism sector)

“Bangladesh has six seasons and each season has its own beauty. Each has a unique attraction for the people. People are now very travel-conscious. If suddenly everything is closed, businessmen who invested in tourism will be affected very badly. Almost 3 million people in Bangladesh are directly or indirectly dependent on tourism. They and their families will be the ultimate sufferers.”

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