Bangladesh will not be able to run the newly introduced cruise service between Dhaka and Kolkata on a regular basis as the country does not have a cruise vessel.
The river vessels of Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation (BIWTC) cannot serve the purpose of river cruising, said shipping ministry officials.
Since the ministry has no plans to buy cruise ships, it is up to the private sector to buy or lease cruise ships from other countries to utilize the service.
“We need to wait for the companies to bring ships,” said one of the officials.
Earlier, Bangladesh and India signed a standard operating procedure (SOP) on October 25, 2018 to run cruise ships between the two neighbouring nations.
Later on March 29, this year, a BIWTC vessel opened a new horizon of cross-border tourism, when it sailed from Pagla, Narayanganj, and reached Kolkata in four days – creating enthusiasm among people. Later in May, an Indian cruise ship sailed through Bangladeshi waterways from Assam to Kolkata.
BIWTC has not had any trips since then because its vessels are unable to sail in high tide during the rainy season.
“We cannot tell you about our next cruise trip,” said a shipping ministry official, requesting anonymity.
However, he informed that several private companies have expressed their interest to run cruise ships between Bangladesh and India as feasibility studies have revealed huge potential for profit from the cross-border cruise service.
“But they need to bring ships from other countries and that will not happen anytime soon.”
Acting chairman of BIWTC, Syed M Tajul Islam, said they will operate vessels along the route, but not regularly. “We may also buy cruise ships in future, but for now, we expect private companies to come forward,” he told The Business Standard.
India, however, has kept operating its cruise service along the water route. An Indian cruise ship named MV Mahabahu entered Bangladesh yesterday, through Antihara, Khulna with nine passengers, including three Americans, two British and one Canadian.
It will stay in Bangladeshi territory for 12 more days before entering Assam through Chilmari, Kurigram. The ship will touch Mongla, Chandpur, Dhaka, Mawa, Aricha, Siranjganj, Bahadurabad, and Chilmari.
The same ship had gone to Kolkata in May, sailing through various points in Bangladesh.