The outbreak of coronavirus has seriously affected the tourism sector in Rangamati district. Tourism service providers in the area are bearing huge financial losses for the last five months.
According to sources at the Rangamati Chamber of Commerce, the tourism sector and other related businesses in the district have lost at least Tk25 crore in the last five months.
Places like Sajek, Hanging Bridge of Rangamati Tourism Corporation, Polway Park, Rangamati Park used to earn several lakh Taka per day. But now, the income is absolutely zero for the last six months, according to concerned people.
Tansen Barua, manager of Banani Textile at Tobolchhari Textile Market in Rangamati town, said, "During the peak season, our shop used to sell items worth Tk50,000-60,000 daily. We needed six employees then. But there are no sales now. And we have sent the staff on unpaid leave."
Ramzan Ali, a boat lessee at the pier of the Rangamati Hanging Bridge, said there have been no tourists for the past five months which has lead to a decline in their income.
Saiful Azam, owner of Moti Mohol hotel in Rangamati town said that he was facing a financial loss in his hotel business.
"I am losing at least Tk1 lakh every month. There are larger hotels than mine. They are also having the same fate. Most of the hotel staff have been sent on unpaid leave. Only two staff members now look after my hotel," he said.
Saiful Islam, owner of Hotel Sufia International in Rangamati town, said that he has to pay around Tk50,000 as staff salary every month despite having no income.
"Amid this situation, the income tax department is asking for money. We also had to pay income tax," said Saiful Islam.
Moin Uddin Selim, general secretary of the Rangamati Residential Hotel Owners Association, said there are 45 residential hotels in Rangamati town.
"In the last five months, the loss at these hotels is around Tk3 crore," said Selim.
Subarno Deb Barman, president of the Sajek Cottage Owners' Association in Rangamati, said Sajek currently has 84 cottages.
"They are currently experiencing losses due to a shortage of tourists. In the last five months, Sajek alone has lost at least Tk10 crore in the cottage sector," said Subarno.
Srijan Bikash Barua, manager of Rangamati Tourism Corporation, said the tourism complex suffered financial loss of over Tk1.5 crore during the coronavirus period.
"We have lost an average of Tk35 lakh per month. At present, we have reopened motels on a limited scale. But there are no tourists," he added.
Belayet Hossain Bhuiyan, president of the Rangamati Chamber of Commerce, said many of the businesses rely on Rangamati City as this is a tourism spot.
"But due to the outbreak of coronavirus, the businesses witnessed a massive decline. In the last five months, the loss in the tourism related sectors in the district is over Tk25 crore," he said.
Rangamati Deputy Commissioner AKM Mamunur Rashid said, the coronavirus has caused damage in almost all the sectors of the district.
"We are monitoring the coronavirus situation in the district. If the situation normalises, the tourist centres will be reopened based on everyone's opinion. The decision will be taken soon," he added.