Murders of two foreign nationals at the beginning of tourist season in Bangladesh have heightened fears of an adverse impact on the industry.They have punctured hopes of good business that seemed possible with the prevailing political calm.At the beginning of the year, the tourism sector was hit badly by blockades and shutdowns enforced by the BNP and its allies.But as the country limped back to normalcy, tour operators expected good business in autumn and winter.But they say the twin murders of Italian aid worker Cesare Tavella in Dhaka and Japanese national Kunio Hoshi in Rangpur within a week has shaken the confidence of foreign tourists.Chief Executive of Bengal Tours Masud Hossain says foreign tourists have already started cancelling their bookings after the murders.He told greenwatchbd.com about 200 tourists have already cancelled their travel plans for Bangladesh during the past one week.“All arrangements had been made. But they have cancelled their visit following the murders.”Hossain said it was unlikely the Japanese and European tourists would renew their bookings and visit Bangladesh.
Many foreigners in Bangladesh have also cancelled their scheduled air travel to other parts of the country.AKM Mahfuzul Alam, Novoair’s Sales and Marketing Manager, told bdnews24.com: “Over the last three or four days, we have had to refund 42 percent of tickets for Chittagong, 17 percent of those for Cox’s Bazar, 31 percent for Jessore and 20 percent for Sylhet.”All these passengers seeking refunds were foreigners, he said.The government has declared 2016 as the Tourism Year and expects a footfall of one million tourists next year.But the killings of the foreigners now poses a major threat to tourism, said Toufique Rahman, owner of Journey Plus. “I have heard that Japanese tourists are cancelling their plans. A few European tourists are supposed to come on Oct 11 and 18. But I am not sure whether they will go ahead with the plans,” he told greenwatchbd.com.Tourism Secretary Khurshed Alam Chowdhury, however, sought to reassure tourists. “The tourists have nothing to fear. The best possible security arrangements have been made for them.”But this failed to convince tour operators. They said the foreigners may not come until they find the situation in Bangladesh safe and favorable.