Tourist haven without amenities
Jhalakathi's three-hundred-year-old floating guava market at Vemruli in Sadar upazila is a sight to behold. But visitors to the market are let down by a lack of amenities. What could be a major tourist attraction yet fails to realise its potential.
“We are a group of thirty tourists who have come to experience this unique market,” says one visitor, Sumia from Dhaka. “But there are so few shelters around. We had to wait in the rain.”
“The place is beautiful; hundreds of boats on the zigzag canals are really great to see,” says another member of the group, “but there really is no comfortable way to do so.”
“There is a shortage of bathroom facilities for tourists,” notes Suvrojit, owner of a restaurant that caters to market visitors, “and as for places to stay, sometimes the tourists stay in private homes.”
There is currently no hotel or guest house; even there are few places to sit or buy refreshments.
“If the government provided some basic facilities,” remarks local college teacher Milton Halder, “this place could be one of the most important tourist attractions in the country.”
Visitors arrive year round at the market, but it's during the rainy season that numbers peak, when the market is at its flourishing best. Yet it's also then that the lack of facilities is arguably most acutely felt.
“We have plans to develop the area for tourism,” says the local government engineering department's deputy commissioner in Jhalakathi, Md Hamidul Haque. “The plans are being processed and we hope to implement them in due course.”