Delays in getting Indian visas have begun to hurt Kolkata's mini-Bangladesh, near the New Market area, resulting in a sharp drop in the number of visitors from the neighbouring country, the Times of India (TOI) reports.
Worried by the slump ahead of the lucrative festival season, several local trade bodies have written to the Central Government of India, urging it to ease visa restrictions for Bangladeshi tourists, the report adds.
Ayesha Amir, wife of a Dhaka-based banker who has visited Kolkata several times in the past, had applied online for a visa in July.
Her appointment came only on 12 September.
"I have never seen such delay in visa-processing," she told TOI.
According to the report, quoting Bangladeshi citizens, a tourist visa to India is now taking up to 90 days to get processed - instead of the fortnight it took earlier.
Estimates from local trade bodies show that on average around 6,000 Bangladeshi citizens reach Kolkata daily, with the number exceeding 15,000 per day during the peak winter season.
Now, however, the number has fallen to just 2,000 to 3,000 tourists.
"Since August our businesses have hit all-time lows due to the poor turnout of Bangladeshi tourists," Md Saif Shamim, joint secretary of Free School Street Traders Association (FSSTA), which has more than 500 hotel owners and traders, told the TOI.
Monotosh Kumar Saha, the FSSTA president who also operates the Shohagh Paribahan buses between Kolkata and Dhaka, said in the past fortnight the number of passengers per bus had fallen to around 12 to 14 though each bus has a capacity of 45 seats.
"It was expected that after the inauguration of the Padma Bridge there will be an influx of tourists to Kolkata, but in reality this has not happened," said Bikash Kumar Yadav, who has been working as a manager at a leading restaurant on Marquis Street for the past decade.
Shamim, an FSSTA office-bearer, said Bangladeshis were now bypassing Kolkata, once a very popular tourist and shopping destination, and travelling to other parts of Asia like Thailand, Singapore and Dubai.
Some businessmen, however, are hopeful of business picking up next month.
"The ICC World Cup in Eden Gardens during October where the Bangladesh cricket team will play will definitely raise the number of tourists," Ghosh, the Shyamoli Paribahan owner, told the TOI.