In any normal new year, hotels and guesthouses in the beach town Cox’s Bazar would be booming with tourists and visitors
In any normal new year, hotels and guesthouses in the beach town Cox’s Bazar would be booming with tourists and visitors. This year was a bit different and Covid-19 wasn’t to blame. Over 50 percent of the total rooms in hotels went empty. Cox’s Bazaar, located in southeastern Bangladesh, is one of the top tourist destinations in the country, drawing visitors from both domestic and foreign markets. In December last year two incidents of rape dealt a heavy blow to the town’s most lucrative industry.
On 24 December, a young couple along with their child was kidnapped and taken to a motel in the area. The abductors later raped the woman for hours.
Last week, the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), an elite anti-crime paramilitary force, arrested some people in connection to the case. On December 13, in a similar incident, a girl was kidnapped and later sexually assaulted.
“Cox’s Bazar usually sees a surge of tourists on the eve of New Year every year but this year it was almost empty,” Mahbubur Rahman, a local of the town, was quoted as saying by Dhaka Tribune. “Restrictions on outdoor events, recent rape incidents, and skyrocketing food prices might be the reasons,” he added.
Officials are well aware of the impact of recent crimes on the image of a city or country and have considerably beefed up security measures.
People involved in the businesses are worried, expecting a fall in the number of tourists during the peak season. Locals, hoping for an uptick in jobs as the economy recovered from Covid, are equally worried.
Earlier, over 700 buses used to arrive per day around the new year, said Salahuddin Setu, who is a councillor in the city municipality. “But this time the number was 50 only, a sharp fall in tourist arrival.”
Following pressure from the public, authorities have now set up a 24×7 monitoring cell in a bid to restore the confidence of visitors. The number of security personnel has been increased as well as the frequency of regular patrols, local media reports said.