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The Financial Express

OPINION

Growing beach-going crowds


An overwhelming crowd of tourists is seen on Cox's Bazar sea beach during Eid-ul-Fitr holiday —FE file photo An overwhelming crowd of tourists is seen on Cox's Bazar sea beach during Eid-ul-Fitr holiday —FE file photo

As the reports go, hundreds of thousands of visitors have flooded the major tourist spots of the country. In Cox's Bazar, accommodation in most of the hotels, motels, guest houses and cottages was booked before the Eid. The tourism operators were expecting a deluge of tourists during the Eid holidays. In fact, the Cox's Bazar sea beach is at the moment hosting more tourists than it can hold. Some visitors were visibly disappointed at the sea of people jostling for space on the beach. Similar reports on the rush of visitors are also coming from Kuakata in Patuakhali district of Barishal division.

Such a large number of holidaymakers flocking to the country's sea beaches and other tourist resorts is indeed a good piece of news for the tourism sector. Because the last two years of pandemic have been a body blow to their business. And those hungry for travel, after two years of pandemic-dictated confinement, were just straining at the leash to go out. Small wonder that they descended in droves on the seaside resorts like Cox's Bazar and Kuakata as soon as the opportunity came.

The sight of such a large number of visitors at the country's tourism spots speaks of a sharp rise in the number of people who can afford the expenses of holidaymaking. The question is, has the size of the country's middle class grown markedly, meanwhile? But there is no cogent reason as to why that should be the case given that the last two pandemic-hit years saw a sharp economic downturn, globally as well as locally. And the time since the restrictions on movement were withdrawn is also not that long for the economy to regain its pre-pandemic level of growth.

So, the swelling crowd of the holidaymakers may not exactly point to a further enlargement in the size of the middle class. It may well be that it is the spendthrift youths, who constitute the bulk of the crowd, have made a beeline for the seaside holiday resorts. Even so, there should be sufficient economic reasons for the youths to be able to spend the money for such vacationing. They must be earning the money by themselves, or having it from their elders--guardians or otherwise.

In either case, if the money is well-earned, it should be the healthy sign of a thriving economy that offers the youths or their guardians a good opportunity for earning. However, it is for the experts to examine the matter in depth and find out how this new, better-off generation of people has emerged. If the money is white and not a product of crony capitalism, then it is a mark of well-performing economy and it should definitely be welcome. As the case may be, it appears, the economy is somehow managing to keep its middle class happy. Or is it?

The post-pandemic uncertainties in the global economy, on the other hand, draws a rather different picture. Worse yet, the war in Ukraine has unsettled the already volatile global commodities market. Unsurprisingly, the local economy has taken quite a punishing, thanks to the skyrocketing prices of daily essentials, especially, the imported edible oils. And the section of the population worst affected by this runaway price hike of commodities and its attendant inflationary pressure is also the same middle and lower middle class people. But the growing beach-going crowds tell quite a different story. It is no doubt a paradox. Let us for the moment leave it to the economists to solve and for now focus rather on how holidaymaking as such is doing.

The tourism operators are obviously enthused by the arrival of so many sightseers. But they should also be ready to render the service the visitors expect from them. Reports that holidaymakers are being taken for a ride at many busy tourist resorts including at Cox's Bazar and Kuakata are concerning. Reports of bullying and harassing female members of the beach-goers are also a blot on the tourism industry. These should be stopped at all costs.

 

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