Parjatan Corporation has hotels on best locations, yet counts losses

The pillars are cracked and the plaster has fallen off of the ceiling at Motel Labonee complex in Cox’s Bazar.Jewel Shill

Most of the Parjatan Corporation hotels and motels are placed in attractive locations. Yet tourists are least interested in spending their vacations in these government-run establishments.

People would rather spend twice or thrice more to stay in private hotels and motels at all the different tourist destinations of the country. They say that the hotels and motels run under Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation (BPC) are totally outdated.

Apart from mismanagement, there’s a lack of professionalism among the officers and employees. There are also various allegations about the quality of service. Due to irregularities, corruption and bureaucracy, the hotels are failing to attract tourists and the corporation is counting losses. 

Ironically, the country’s first ever hotel was launched jointly with this government corporation. The corporation is caught up in a vicious circle of constant losses from the 2018-19 fiscal year (FY). Until last FY (2022-23) it had to count Tk 100 million (10 crore) in losses on average.

The question as to why several hotels and motels are failing to make a profit despite being situated at attractive locations, has been raised by the ministry of civil aviation and tourism.

In fact, the ministry is also thinking of taking punitive action against the officials and employees of those hotels and motels which fail consistently to meet the revenue targets.

On condition of anonymity, several officials of the Parjatan Corporation told Prothom Alo that some of the establishments have been constructed on political consideration. Establishing a tourist hub there was a mistake.

According to Parjatan Corporation data, they have a total of 51 hotels, motels, restaurants and bars across the country. The corporation itself operates 35 of them while the remaining 16 have been leased out.

A report from the ministry of civil aviation and tourism shows that most of these units are failing to make an earning according to the targets.
Citing records from last year’s November the report from the ministry stated that 33 out of the 35 commercial units had failed to meet the revenue targets.

Parjatan Motel Sylhet, Jaflong Parjatan Motel, Hotel Saikot in Chattogram, Motel Labonee, Motel Upal, Motel Probal and Hotel Shaibal in Cox’s Bazar are notable ones among them.

Meanwhile, Executive Cafeteria located at the secretariat and rooftop restaurant in Agargaon of the capital have earned more than the target. Six of the leased units are facing pre-tax (before paying the tax) loss.

Civil aviation and tourism minister Faruk Khan told Prothom Alo, “Initiatives have been taken to make the establishments run under the Parjatan Corportaion profitable so that tourists receive better service. If a local or foreign company comes forward with a proposal we’ll welcome that.”

Shoibal, Upal, Labonee’s ‘disgrace’

Motel Upal was launched in Cox’s Bazar back in 1972. The motel hasn’t been renovated since. There are total 38 rooms in the motel. Twelve of those rooms were rented on last 13 February and 16 were booked on 14 February.

Through most part of the year 10 to 12 rooms get rented on average. While visiting the motel the furniture was found to be old and the rooms damp. Nurul Amin who came from Fatikchhari in Chattogram told Prothom Alo that he stayed the night there just because he had no choice.

An official at Motel Upal, Syed Rajib Hossain said that the motel attracts fewer tourists because of the crisis of staff, old furniture and failing to keep up with time.

Negligence and carelessness was the same at Motel Labonee. In most of the rooms, the plaster on the celling has fallen off while the furniture has been infested by mites. It’s a few minutes’ walk from the motel to Labonee point on the beach, yet it remains mostly vacant throughout the year.

An officer at a private firm, Mohammad Mohsin, went to Motel Labonee with his family from Dhaka’s Mirpur on 16 February. But he was found leaving with his family members. When asked why they were checking out, he told Prothom Alo, “There’s no way to stay here. So we’re leaving.”

Out of the 60 rooms at Motel Labonee, 15 have been left abandoned for two years. Condition of the remaining 45 is miserable too. Out of all these rooms, four were rented on 11 February and three the next day on 12 February. On average, not more than three to four rooms are booked daily.

Manager at Motel Labonee, Omar Faruk said that the construction of a futuristic hotel with a training centre has been proposed there. That’s why they aren’t renovating the dilapidated buildings. Despite most of the rooms left empty they aren’t counting losses, he claimed.

Hotel Shoibal has a huge pond, eye-catching garden and a swimming pool. Yet, tourists aren’t interested in staying at the hotel. The hotel built on 135 acres of land has lost its glamour.

Out of the 24 rooms that are there, 11 were booked on 11 February and 12 were booked on 12 February. More than half of the rooms remain empty through most part of the year.

Mentioning that a proposal for constructing a 200-room state-of-the-art hotel had been sent out four years ago, manager of Hotel Shoibal, Raihan Uddin told Prothom Alo that more tourists will visit once it has been executed.

Guest crisis at Parjatan Motel Sylhet

‘Parjatan Motel Sylhet’ was established on 41 acres of land nearby Sylhet Airport, three decades back in 1994. There’s a restaurant and garden there. Yet the motel is struggling with guest crisis.

The motel has total 26 rooms with 15 air-conditioned and 11 general ones. Going there on 15 February it was found that the paint on the wall has fallen off in many places. And, there were guests only in two of the 26 rooms.

Meanwhile, no diners could be found in the restaurant attached to the motel. A staff member of the restaurant said that earlier they used to have sales worth Tk 8,000 to 10,000 daily. Now they just arrange food for the one or two guests that come to the motel. Alongside the motel, the restaurant also needs to be renovated, he said.

Manager of the motel, Kazi Wahidur Rahman acknowledged the fact of losing tourists due to infrastructural issues. He told Prothom Alo that the corporation has taken an initiative to restore the rooms in order to attract tourists.

The auditorium of Parjatan Motel in Sylhet has not been used for a long time due to infrastructural issues. Photo taken recently.
Anis Mahmud

‘Seeking investment for renovation’

With the objective of developing the country’s tourism industry, alleviating poverty by creating employment in this sector and enhance country’s image to the world, Parjatan Corporation was launched officially on 1 January 1973.

However, the organisation could not progress much even after 50 years of its establishment. Government records show that establishments have been constructed on different locations across the country to attract tourists. But, they haven’t turned in profits.

At some places, the establishments have been set without any survey, for example, Salna Picnic Spot and Resort in Gazipur. The revenue it generated last November is Tk 516,000 (5.16 lakh) only whereas, the expenditure was Tk 650,000 (6.5 lakh).

The amount of pre-tax loss recorded there in that month was Tk 800,000 (8 lakh). According to ministerial report, Salna Resort lack many facilities including the swimming pool. So, the tourists aren’t that much interested in visiting.

The Sagordari resort in Jashore remains empty most of the year, according to the ministry’s report. The expenses there are higher than the revenue. The report mentions that constructing a motel in Jaflong was not sensible either.

A motel was set at Sona Masjid land port in Chapainawabganj at the recommendation of a senior government official. That’s not making any profit. Meanwhile, Adarshanagar resort in Netrakona is not making profit either.

Another resort was built in Kazipur upazila of Sirajganj at the cost of Tk 40 million (4 crore) in the name of former health minister and late Awami League leader Mohammed Nasim. That too is counting losses.

Parjatan Corporation general manager (planning, statistics and training) Ziaul Haque Howlader told Prothom Alo that they have to pay VAT, tax and give parts of the profit to the government. Plus they have to give salaries to all the employees working across the country.

So, they cannot make that much profit. However it wouldn’t be appropriate to say that the commercial hubs are counting losses. Regarding the hotel and motels not being renovated for a long time, he said that local and foreign investment is being sought for renovation.

‘Corporation running with backdated ideas’ 

To find out the reasons why government hotels and motels cannot make a profit, the ministry had formed a committee in February last year. That committee produced a report after visiting the government hotels and motels in person for five months.

It stated that many of the tourist hubs haven’t been restored for year after years. Nowhere the establishments have been set at the right location. Some of the establishments have been built on a smaller space while some of them don’t offer any facilities for the tourists.

The tourists don’t want to visit there and the commercial units aren’t turning in profits.

Secretary general of the tourism company, ‘Pacific Asia Travel Association, Taufiq Rahman told Prothom Alo that the Parjatan Corporation is running with backdated ideas. The hotels and motels haven’t been restored keeping with the times.

The quality of service is subpar. Plus, there’s no long-term planning or promotion either. It’s unfortunate that all the hotels and motels of the Parjatan Corporation are failing to make a profit despite being placed on attractive locations, Taufik Rahman remarked.

Putting it under the management of private sector on political consideration in the past has caused damages. These hotels and motels will always remain loss-making establishments if they are not handed to someone professional, he added.

[Gazi Firoz from Chattogram and Manaobi Singha from Sylhet helped with information]

*This report appeared in the print and online versions of Prothom Alo and have been re-written in English by Nourin Ahmed Monisha.

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