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28 Jul 2016   07:13:19 PM   Thursday BdST A- A A+ Print this E-mail this

Hospitality industry takes hottest heat

Moslem Uddin Ahmed
uns24.com

It`s part of urban life nowadays for people of strata of society to spend leisure time sipping tea, taking snacks and so at hotels or restaurants of respective standards--from five-star ones for high-society people and businessmen to wayside kiosks for the lower orders. Evening is the high time, which is now turns out to be at its lowest ebb. The Gulshan nightmare is fresh in everybody’s mind.        

Why say only townsmen? With influences of urban culture trickling down to villages, villagers also flock to tea stalls and small restaurants in every village across Bangladesh after day`s work. They are also not immune.   

These hospitality facilities used to be buzzing with business talk, political or personal conversations over refreshments or the dinner. In case of Gulshan, foreign businesspeople like garment buyers, personnel for different foreign-aided and local projects and diplomats used crowd the hangouts.      

Hushed-up are all these interactions and recreation away from the rut of daily duties. The Gulshan cafe, as a standing reminder of horrors of evening hanging out, haunts the mind of everybody who thinks of getting in any of the hospitality-industry units.
Reports say hotels and restaurants in Dhaka’s upscale Gulshan-Banani zone give a vacant look these days. Bookings have also come down in other areas too, including tourist spots. The spread of the shocks to wider areas is because of the fact that, apart from the Holey Artisan Bakery carnage and Sholakia eid congregation attack in a close succession, isolated incidents of attacks and killings in militant style had taken place before and continued on a lower scale in different parts of the country.

The Gulshan eateries, including bars in the diplomatic zone, were facing another stumbling blow from the administration that appears to be wise after the event. The government authorities served notice that all commercial establishments will be evicted from this and other residential areas.

Various businesses including that of multinationals have dotted this and other residential areas particularly of the capital over the years—mostly being licensed by authorities. Relevant regulators have allegedly looked on. 

 
To entrepreneurs and owners came the sudden decision as a bolt from the blue. They say their undertakings are not unauthorized as they had established businesses with permission from respectively authorities concerned. 


Dhaka North City Corporation Mayor Annisul Haq, under whose jurisdiction the posh Gulshan-Banani area falls, expressed his empathy with the businesspeople on this ground. “I also think that it wouldn’t be wise to evict them. They have made huge investments, have their bank loans to pay back,” said Mr Annis, a former president of the country`s apex trade body, FBCCI.

Even as the axe has not yet fallen on them, the prevailing ambiance of scare and throttling security bulwarks in the area have kept people far away from the check-in vicinities of the inns.
People in business circles in general report a slowdown amid an air of uncertainty and fear syndrome in the aftermath of the 01 July cafe attack and the other similar abortive strike at eid congregation, with remotely claimed dreaded IS connection.

A prolonged eid vacation also had its own damper, and the weird acts of militancy only reinforced dulled mode in usual run of life and business. Many shops and schools were yet to open after the closure that was foreshadowed by the unforeseen type of slaughter committed by tender-age boys, most of whom had gone missing from academic institutions and reappeared in scenes of carnage brainwashed to be suicide attackers to kill and be killed.

Parents are scared by the discoveries and many seem averse to sending children to schools, colleges and varsities lest theirs also should fall in trap of motivation for sacrificing this temporal life for infinite eternal bliss.

“This is not the familiar Bangladesh we created through the 1971 Liberation War. It’s not real—it’s like a state of surrealism,” Dhaka University History Professor Syed Anwar Hossain said. He, however, would like to believe that the measures being taken by the government and security forces would bring the situation back to normal.

Talks in all business circles bear note of apprehension as majority of those slain the café attack by the juvenile gunmen were foreign businesspeople who were involved with the country’s main export-industry trade or project employees, from Italy and Japan respectively. Reports have it that representatives of international marketing chains were postponing their Dhaka trips and calling for the garment entrepreneurs to attend business meets in third countries.          

In a major setback, a few international conferences scheduled to be held in the Bangladesh capital for its so-long attained credentials have been shifted from here. It entails a loss of repute as also of money in terms of arrangement funds and tourism proceeds.                  

The sun also rises, yet. And life and business runs along its endless course for the sake of sustenance. Analysts suggest the government authorities should build on the current lull a united response to the national exigencies arising out of the marauding militancy.          

(This story was carried by The News Today on July 25, 2016)

 

            

 

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