Tuesday, 19 October, 2021

Tourism sector rebounds

  • Rajib Kanti Roy
  • 27 September, 2021 12:00 AM
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Tourism sector rebounds

Hotels, resorts, motels and guest houses are receiving bookings as tourists have started visiting popular holiday destinations across the country amid improvement in the Covid-19 situation. 

With about 470 hotels and motels and 2,000 food outlets, Cox’s Bazar, the most popular holiday spot in the country, is attracting a good number of tourists every day since the reopening of tourist spots on August 19.

“After the government allowed reopening of tourist destinations, tourists are coming to Cox’s Bazar to spend quality time. As per the government’s instructions, we are running hotels at half capacity and asking our guests to maintain health guidelines,” said Abdul Kaium Chowdhury, managing director of Hotel Cox Today in Cox’s Bazar.

“Things are improving gradually. We get fewer bookings for regular days, but business at the weekend is good,” he added.

He thinks that the government should allow them to open of all their rooms as running a hotel at 50 per cent capacity costs the same as in full capacity.

Hotel owners of Bandarban are also confident to operate their hotel maintaining health guidelines and believe that allowing hotels to run at full capacity will not create any problem.

“People were bored after being stuck inside their houses for so many months. They are unable to plan tours abroad due to various issues. Therefore, they are booking hotels and resorts to come out of monotony. We have separate rooms. So, there is no complication in maintaining health guidelines. In such a situation, the government should allow us to run hotels at full capacity,” said Amal Kanti Das, president of Bandarban Residential Hotels Association.

Albeit the recent recovery has shown some rays of hope for business in the tourism sector, traders are  cautious. They are still trying to recover their losses incurred during the pandemic in different ways. “It was really a tough time. We had to pay the salary of our staff despite having no income. We raised the rate a bit and reduced the number of staff to recover the previous loss,” said MH Murad, managing director of Shuktara Nature Retreat located in Sylhet’s Khadimnagar.

He also said his resort which has been built on three acres of land has been able to rent out an average of 8 to 10 rooms out of a total 24.

With more than 115 subdivisions like hotels, resorts, restaurants, fast-food shops, tour operators, recreation centres, aviation, boats, cruise ships, rent-a-car, buses, tourism is a massive industry. The new influx of tourists has revived related businesses, said the traders.

Md Nuruzzaman Siddiqui, a business partner of Pansi Restaurant, one of the busiest eateries in Sylhet city, said, “We had incurred a big loss due to the pandemic. But now the situation has improved. Tourists have begun visiting different spots and enjoying a good time. Consequently, we are doing good business.”

Tourism sector leaders are hopeful that if the coronavirus situation continues to improve they would come out of the slowdown created by the pandemic.

“The tourism season is yet to begin but we are getting a good response from our holidaymakers. If the situation improves further, other countries lift the ban on travel restrictions, international tourists start to visit Bangladesh again, I hope we will do better in the peak season of November, December and January and recover the losses that we counted during the pandemic,” said Tourism Resort Industries Association of Bangladesh (TRIAB) President Khabir Uddin Ahmed.

It is to be mentioned that Bangladesh Bank on July 15 declared a stimulus package worth Tk 10 billion for hotels, motels and theme parks affected by the pandemic. However, a number of hotel and motel owners have alleged that they did not get proper cooperation from the banks to benefit from the stimulus package.

According to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), Bangladesh’s tourism sector has lost Tk 265 billion by 2020 and the contribution of this sector to the country’s GDP has decreased by more than 32 per cent.

According to the WTTC report, the sector’s contribution to GDP in 2020 was only Tk 540 billion, down from Tk 804.50 billion in 2019.