Tour operators and transport service associates lauded the move, excited that they will finally be able to carry passengers to destinations
All types of inter-district public transports were allowed to commute with 50% passenger capacity from Monday, after 49 days of inactivity thanks to the nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19.
Additionally, the ban on dine-in service at hotels and restaurants was also lifted.
Following the decision, tour operators and transport service associates lauded the move, excited that they will finally be able to carry passengers to destinations.
They reeled from the losses incurred during Eid-ul-Fitr, which is usually when they make the most business throughout the year.
But as people were barred from exiting Dhaka, and buses barred from moving, not too many people left for their hometowns. As a result the transportation sector suffered huge losses.
Md Borhan Uddin, CEO of Green Holidays Tours, told Dhaka Tribune: “Certainly this is a good decision [for us], as for almost more than a year, we have been out of business.”
To save the industry, the government should think about exempting the VAT and license renewal fee. In the meantime, tourist destinations should be able to open with limited restrictions so that the industry can survive amid the pandemic, he added.
Dynamic Tours Ltd Director Shahadat Hossain said that now tourists will consider tours using bus, launch, and railway services.
The resumption of long-haul bus services is a timely blessing, he also said.
“At least while the decision remains, we will benefit from tourists travelling and tours will be able to run smoothly. We are suffering more than any other sector because tours and travels were shut down more than one and half years ago due to Covid-19,” Hossain added.
He also explained that hotels and restaurants are allowed to serve half of their seat occupancy, so dependent industries such as hotels, motels, and restaurants will also be able to get back to business.
Rasel Ahmed, counter manager for Saintmartin Express, said: “We are really happy because of the decision as otherwise, we would have been helpless. Now, we will carry passengers to Cox’s Bazar.”
“I did not get paid as long-haul buses remained idle. I was helpless with my wife, children, and father. If the buses operate, there will be no problem,” he added.
He also mentioned that a passenger could sit in two seats for social distancing.
Buses will also charge based on the government-fixed fares.
Sharif Hasan, a bus helper at Ena Paribahan, said: “Our long route bus services were shut for more than a month. Now, we will get paid as there will be passengers travelling to destinations. These past 49 days were a nightmare for us.”
Md. Iftekhar Alam Bhuiyan, CEO of New Discovery Tours & Logistic and former vice president Tour Operators Association of Bangladesh (TOAB), said: “The domestic tourism industry will get direct leverage from the long-route public transport resumption; we are hoping to get back to 20-30% of business in this time.
We are hopeful, although, as we do not have any power over the situation, the tourism industry requires long-term policy support, he added."