Vol. 5 Num 363 Mon. June 06, 2005  
Star City

Parjatan's Ashulia river cruise fails to attract tourists

Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation (BPC)'s regular river cruise programme from Ashulia landing station failed to attract tourists after a month of its inauguration.

BPC inaugurated the service by ML Shalook, a double-decker launch on May 1 after Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Association (BIWTA) opened a 29 kilometer long circular water way from Sadarghat to Ashulia.

"We expected that city people would rush to enjoy the cruise as they have hardly any place to go," said a high official of BPC. "But it did not happen."

ML Shalook brought to Ashulia from BPC's floating restaurant Mary Anderson has a seating capacity of 72 persons and dining capacity of 24 persons.

BPC offers three different cruise programmes for tourists. The first one is seven-hour Dhaka-Ashulia-Pagla-Ashulia-Dhaka trip that costs Tk 875 per

person including breakfast and lunch. It needs booking of at least 40 persons.

The second one is a two-hour long trip in the Ashulia water body that costs a person Tk 200. The third one costs Tk 100 per person for an hour long trip. Both the cruises need minimum 25 persons and on the spot booking.

There is another two-hour cruise offered for students that costs Tk 110 per person including refreshments. Prior booking of minimum 40 person is required for it.

The BPC official said BPC is sending letters to educational institutions offering lower charge for the cruise to popularise it among students.

The officials in charge of the river cruise programme said on average only seven passengers turn up a day to take a trip by the vessel. "There are days when not a single passenger comes," said one of them.

He said that operating the vessel with inadequate passengers is not commercial viable. The fuel cost is at least Tk 1,000 per hour," he said.

The official said they even sometimes run the second cruise in Ashulia with two or three persons. "We are doing this only to popularise the river cruise."

Most of the city dwellers are unaware of the cruise programmes. Some of them say the charges are too high while some doubt about security on the vessel.

BPC officials however attributed the lukewarm interest of tourists to lack of advertisement, heat wave and dried water body. "This is summer. Tourists may show interests in the rainy season," said an official.

The official replied in negative when asked if there is any chance of reducing the charge. "How can we reduce it when fuel price has been hiked."

ML Shalook, Partajan's river cruise operates sans adequate passengers. PHOTO: STAR