Eid boosts battered tourism: Hotels doing brisk business
Hotels and resorts in tourist destinations across Bangladesh are enjoying brisk business thanks to the long holiday afforded by most industries in the current festival season centring Eid-ul-Fitr as they look to partially recover pandemic-induced losses.
Industry people say the busiest days were the first four days after Eid day on May 3, and they expect good business in the coming days. As such, occupancy rates crossed 90 per cent in most hotels and resorts during the holiday despite it being the off-season.
In Bangladesh, winter is the peak season for tourism, starting from November and ending in mid-April.
"The demand for room bookings was immense from May 4 to 7 as holiday makers hit the beach city of Cox's Bazar to celebrate Eid," said Abdul Kaium Chowdhury, managing director of Hotel The Cox Today.
Hotel The Cox Today, which has 270 rooms, witnessed 90 per cent occupancy during the first four days after Eid.
"However, demand will fall from tomorrow [today]," he told The Daily Star.
"This is the off-season for Cox's Bazar but still, business has been great," said Chowdhury, who is general secretary of the Cox's Bazar Hotel-Motel Owners Association.
Cox's Bazar, the country's top holiday spot with about 500 hotels, motels and resorts and 2,000 food outlets, has drawn guests in good numbers.
Rashed Mahmud, chief executive officer of Grace Cox Smart Hotel, said his hotel witnessed 100 per cent occupancy in the first four days after Eid.
There are 70 rooms at the hotel and about 50 per cent of them were booked even on Eid day.
"With this kind of response from guests, it can be inferred that the whole month of May, especially in the holidays, will see good business as many have already started making bookings," Mahmud added.
Resorts in other parts of the county also welcomed a good number of tourists amid the Eid festivities.
The Palace Luxury Resort, built on 150 acres of land with 100 rooms and 32 villas in a remote village of Habiganj district, was almost fully booked during the Eid holidays.
"Compared to the festival seasons during the last two years of the pandemic, our business was good," said Joseph Gomes, general manager of the resort.
"We are now in the recovery phase of the pandemic and the pace of the recovery is pretty speedy," he added.
Md Abdullah Al Kafi, managing director at Meghmati Village Resort in Mymensingh, said the prolonged length of this year's Eid holiday propelled domestic tourism.
The occupancy rate was almost 100 per cent in the village concept-based resort, which also markets organic food.
"We have identified a different trend this year that many guests came to our resort in the morning of Eid day," he said.
Kafi went on to say that the pandemic stalled domestic tourism for the past two years but people rediscovered the beauty of Bangladesh this time around.
Pradip Sanyal, executive director of the Bhawal Resort and Spa in Gazipur, said 90 per cent of their rooms were booked for the last few days centring the Eid festival.
Md Jahirul Islam, operation head (in charge) of Mermaid Beach Resort, said business during this Eid season met 80 per cent of their expectation.
Nitai Chandra Sutradhar, finance and accounts manager of the Nokkhottrobari Resort in Gazipur, said 22 rooms were booked out of the 29 available during May 4, 5 and 6.
But despite the influx of tourists, hotel and resort owners continue to reel from pandemic-induced losses.
Chowdhury of Hotel The Cox Today said the losses during the pandemic will take several years to recover.
"The business that we lost in the last two years may never be covered," he added.
Islam of Mermaid Beach Resort said they have put aside all the setbacks of the pandemic and are taking the current year positively.
"There are no more restrictions related to Covid-19 this year and I have to say that business has been fairly fruitful as a result. We are considering this year as the year of transition and next year as the year of business," he added.
According to the Bangladesh Outbound Tour Operators Association, more than five lakh people could visit India during the Eid holidays this time. Besides, many are expected to go to the Maldives, Thailand, Nepal, and Dubai.
According to a recent survey by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), India is the top choice for Bangladeshis to travel abroad, followed by Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, and Thailand.
"We have seen that a good number of tourists went outside the country during this Eid, especially to countries which provided visas and improved the facilities suitable for the new normal," said Kamrul Islam, general manager (public relations) of US-Bangla Airlines.
According to him, the top destinations for tourists were Kolkata, Kathmandu, Maldives and Dubai.