The Financial Express

Tourism industry completely ignoring heath protocols

| Updated: September 28, 2021 08:20:37

- File Photo - File Photo

As tourism gains momentum in business after the relaxation of Covid restrictions, the few health protocols still in force are being completely ignored.

One of those protocols for the hotel authorities at famous tourism spots was to keep 50 per cent of the accommodation empty. But it is being highly disregarded by the management of hotels and motels.

Taufiq Rahman, Secretary General of Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Bangladesh Chapter, said it's hard for hotel authorities to follow the health rules even if they wish to because of the onrush of tourists at the spots soon after the mass unlocking.

"A strict monitoring by the local government on how many tourists can visit a spot at a time may ensure the compliance of the government's direction, "suggested Taufiq.

As per a UNB report, health guidelines have already become a myth in Cox's Bazar, one of the most frequented tourist spot in the country with 500 t0 600 hotels and motels.

President of Tour Operator Association of Bangladesh (TOAB) Rafiuzzaman said crowding of in open places can't actually be controlled or monitored.

"In our meetings we are asking operators to operate tours maintaining health guidelines. But most tourists go personally and they don't actually care much about those rules," said the president of TOAB.

Regarding keeping 50 per cent of accommodation vacant, Rafiuzzaman said though the five star or standard hotels are maintaining the guideline small hotels are taking full bookings.

"You have to book rooms a few days before going as all the good hotels are booked in Cox's Bazar due to a swarming number of tourists," a tourist who recently returned from Cox's Bazar told this UNB reporter.

The direction to run hotels with half the capacity was hardly seen being maintained as the pressure of tourists was huge, he said.

Meanwhile, Cox's Bazar District Commissioner Mamunur Rashid claimed that the maintaining of health guidelines and sparing of 50 per cent of rooms are strictly being monitored with the assistance of hotel association and tourist police.

Considering the livelihood and economic woes of the country's tourism sector, all the tour destinations have been reopened with notification of guidelines for the hotel, motel and tourism centre authorities, said state Minister for Civil Aviation and Tourism Mahbub Ali.

Regarding the defiance, the minister said the local government has been monitoring the compliance of the rules and if needed it is directed to conduct mobile courts as part of strict measures.

"Our decision has been that the local government will coordinate with public representatives, volunteers, scouts and other stakeholders in running awareness campaigns for the tourist to follow the Covid rules," he said.

Mass campaigns will need to be conducted at local level for revaluation of the situation with the stakeholders of tourism sector to have a grip on the pandemic as well as tourism industry, Mahbub added.

"Our tourism sector has turned around from the losses it incurred during the long lockdown imposed for Covid-19 but our activities need to be controlled to make sure the sector does not get shut down again," he said.

Any negligence in maintaining the health rules at tourism destinations will not be tolerated and legal actions will be taken against the hotel authorities who are not keeping 50 per cent accommodation free, said Minister Mahbub Ali.

The declining number of Covid cases and deaths signals an easing of the second wave in the country but the fear of a third wave still looms, warned the experts. They said the time to lower the guard has not come yet.

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