Eid rush: Tourism to see turnaround after 2 years

The tourism industry is set to rebound during the Eid vacation after two years of slump amid the pandemic.

Thousands of people are likely to make trips to domestic and foreign tourist destinations during the Eid vacation, said the leaders of Tour Operators Association of Bangladesh (Toab), adding that the number of such trips fell significantly due to Covid in 2020 and 2021.

It has already become difficult to get air tickets for the domestic and foreign tourist destinations, thanks to the rush of holidaymakers.

Officials of all three airlines of the country — Biman, US-Bangla and Novoair — told The Daily Star that the demand for tickets to two popular destinations, Cox’s Bazar and Sylhet, was very high from May 2. Eid is likely to fall on May 2 or 3.

US-Bangla Airlines has already sold almost 80 percent of the Dhaka-Cox’s Bazar tickets for flights in the first week of May, said its spokesperson Kamrul Islam.

Towards the end of 2020, the tourism industry tried to recover from losses, but the slump caused by the second and third wave of coronavirus forced many tour operators to leave the business, Toab leaders said.

Forty lakh people are currently employed in the tourism sector that added 4.4 percent to the GDP in 2019, said Toab President Rafeuzzaman.

Toab includes 700 tour operators, travel agencies, hotels, motels, resorts, airlines, and transport companies.

In a recent study, Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) said the hospitality industry lost around Tk 60,000 crore in 2020.

The study released earlier this month said 1.1 lakh people lost their jobs amid the pandemic.

“We hope that domestic tourism will rebound centring the Eid. We are expecting that over 1.5 million holidaymakers will make trips to domestic and outbound destinations this Eid,” Rafeuzzaman, also a member of the governing body of Bangladesh Tourism Board, told The Daily Star.

Mohammad Iqbal Mahmood, president of Bangladesh Outbound Tour Operators Association, said six-seven lakh people are likely to travel to different destinations outside the country during the vacation. India alone will see almost five lakh visitors from Bangladesh.

US-Bangla’s Kamrul said demands for tickets of Dhaka-Kolkata and Dhaka-Male flights were very high with most of the tickets already sold, causing the prices of remaining Dhaka-Kolkata tickets to skyrocket.

Tickets for flights to Nepal, Turkey, Thailand, the Maldives, Bangkok, Malaysia and Dubai are also in high demand.

Between April 20 and May 7, many people in Bangladesh will have just one work day on May 5.

Former Toab director Taslim Amin said all the resorts in and around Dhaka were fully booked for three days from Eid while the rooms in good hotels, motels and resorts in Cox’s Bazar and Sylhet were booked for a week after Eid.

The situation will be almost similar in Rangamati and Bandarban for around a week from May 5, he added.

Himel, manager of Aronnok Holiday Resort in Rangamati, told this correspondent that all of their 11 cottages were booked from May 3 to May 9.