During the winter every year, local and foreign tourists flock to Susang Durgapur in Netrokona to enjoy its natural beauty, but this time few tourists turned up due to the prevailing pandemic situation, severely hitting various tourist-oriented businesses in the area.
Among the affected sectors, the business of restaurants and guest houses has slowed down due to the pandemic. There are 12 restaurants and 11 guest houses in Durgapur Sadar where tourists are the main customers.
Biplob Majumder, the owner of Nirala Restaurant, said, "Every year during the winter, my sale is Tk40,000-50,000 a day, but this year it is less than Tk4,000-5,000 as there are only a handful of tourists."
The transport business has similarly been affected. About 500 young men, who rent motorcycles to take tourists to different spots, are now mostly without work.
Abdul Gafur, who has been selling tea, betel leaves, cigarettes, soft drinks, green coconuts, biscuits, chocolates, pickles, tissue paper, etc to tourists for eight years, said he used to earn at least Tk500-600 a day which doubles in the winter, but this time he cannot earn even Tk200-300 a day.
Upazila Nirbahi Officer Farzana Khanam said an order was issued in March at the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, banning tourists from visiting Durgapur. Later, when the tourist spots across the country reopened, the ban was lifted, but not many people are coming.
Mentioning some initiatives to attract tourists, she said, "We are allowing some indigenous homes to be used for home-based tourism, where tourists can come and stay. Besides, we are going to launch an app having pictures, descriptions and travel facilities of different spots."
Durgapur, situated near the state of Meghalaya in India, is known as Susang Durgapur for a historical reason. To the north of Kullagarh and Sadar Union of Durgapur are Garo hills surrounded by dense green forests.
Among other attractions, two hilly rivers named Someshri and Atraikhali have enhanced the natural beauty of Susang Durgapur.
Moreover, the diverse lifestyles of the ethnic groups like Garo, Hajong, Hadi, Koch, etc, living on hillocks and plains, also attract tourists to Susang Durgapur.
Besides, some of the small and ethnographic institutions located in different places in Durgapur also attract visitors.
There is a "Cultural Academy for Small and Ethnic Groups" in Birishiri, the entrance to Durgapur, which was established in 1977 at the initiative of the Ministry of Culture to preserve cultural heritage of indigenous communities.
The academy has training rooms, a library, museum and exhibition centre, auditorium, a lovely garden and a rest house.
In the village of Baheratli in Kullagarh Union, there is an arrow-shaped Rashimoni memorial associated with the historical Tonk Movement. Besides, there is a Tonk Martyr Memorial at Bagichapara in Durgapur Sadar and the house of Comrade Moni Singh. There is a beautiful house of Susang Maharaja in Sadhupara.