After a long closure, the first tourist ship of the season officially started its operation today on the Teknaf – Cox's Bazar route.
The Keari Cruise and Dine ship left the jetty for Saint Martin's Island at 9.30am with over 300 passengers on board.
The ship is expected to reach the island by 12pm, said Tofail Ahmed, president of the district branch of Podokkhep Bangladesh, a tourism organisation.
Anowar Hossain, an official of Keari Tours and Services Ltd's Cox's Bazar office, said, "Some of the 310 passengers will spend the night at the island while others will return. Other water transportations will resume movement on the route depending on the success of today's operation."
He further said that they had an impressive turnout of people on Sunday who wanted to book tickets for Tuesday.
"The authorities will allow other ships after observing today's operations of the Keari Cruise and Dine ship, "said Abu Sufian, additional district magistrate (in charge of tourism), Cox's Bazar.
Six more ships – Keari Sindabad, Keari Dine, Parijaat, Farhan, Rajhangsho, and Sukanta Babu – submitted applications to the district administration for permission to run their ships.
"The hotels and cottages in the island have been all decked up. We are ready to welcome the tourists," said Md Didarul Alam, managing director of the Sea Island Resort.
Earlier on 1 November, the authorities started to repair the old Saint Martin's jetty which has been in a dangerous condition for a while now.
Even though the tourist season began on 27 September, authorities kept tourist ship operations to the island suspended for safety reasons and only service boats were permitted to run on the route.
Mujibur Rahman, president of Saint Martin's Union Awami League and a hotel owner, said "Residents of the tourism-dependent island cheered the news of ship movement resumption.
However, hoteliers have already incurred losses as almost one and a half months have gone by since the tourism season started."
Due to unfavourable weather and an inoperable jetty, ship service to Saint Martin's Island remained suspended for a long time.